Male construction workers industry are twice as likely to die by suicide in the general population, and five times more likely to die by suicide than to die in a fatal work accident (see reference below). In 2022-23, ASA of Baltimore held a series of sessions to help subcontractors begin to address the crisis of suicide. The first session made it clear that several of our members have experienced suicide in their business with devastating impacts on the entire company. Let’s look at why this is an issue for subcontractors, and how employers can prioritize the mental health and well-being of their workers by providing mental health resources and creating a supportive work environment.
Why is this an issue for construction contractors?
First, there is the work itself. Workers often work in isolation, for long hours away from families and communities, and performing physically demanding work. They may face more accidents and injuries on the job and feel pressure work or economic pressure to get back to work before they are fully healed.
Construction subcontractor work can be unpredictable, with projects delayed or cancelled, causing financial stress and uncertainty. Added pressure may also flow down from management when owners and general contractors make unreasonable demands on schedules, rework and change order work.
The problem is compounded by the fact that some construction workers do not have access to mental health services, and those that do may face significant barriers to accessing care. Perhaps most devastating for construction workers, the stigma surrounding mental health can make it difficult for to feel comfortable seeking help or disclosing their struggles to employers or colleagues.
how do i start?
Start by completing the Needs Analysis and Integration checklist to assess your company’s suicide preparedness. The use the 3-level integration tool to begin to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage workers to seek help when they need it. Have your employees use the free, confidential mental health screening tool to assess their mental health and learn more about resources they can access. Organizational culture doesn’t change in a day, so the key is to start the conversation.
1 Partnering to Prevent Suicide in the Construction Industry – Building Hope and a Road to Recovery, CDC NIOSH Blog, September 9, 2020 by Trudi McCleery, MPH; Scott Earnest, PhD, PE, CSP; Christina Socias-Morales, DrPH; and CDR Elizabeth Garza, MPH, CPH
commitment to safety
Suicide in the construction industry is a complex and pressing issue that demands our attention and action. By working together, we can create a safer and more supportive industry for all workers.
Submitted by Joselin Martin, TrueNorth CFO