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HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELLBEING


ENGINEERING A SAFER ENVIRONMENT


Suicide is killing more construction workers than falls on building sites. With 10th September marking World Suicide Prevention Day, Darrell Johnson, SHEQ Manager at Smith Brothers, explains why it’s vital to look after all elements of health and wellbeing.


When it comes to the topic of health and safety in construction, it’s easy to automatically default to images of high-vis and hard hats. However, in order to build a cohesive and resilient workforce, it’s vital that firms go beyond physical health and encompass psychological fitness too.


The construction industry is vital to the UK economy. Employing almost 2.5 million people and contributing, on average, £113bn to the nation’s economy, protection of employees’ physical health is very much on everyone’s radar – but of real and growing concern is the attention to mental health.


Of course, there’s little point in trying to foster a culture around any type of health and safety if your business proposition doesn’t complement it. On-site safety and employee wellbeing should be a regular agenda item at the monthly board meeting, and one which sits on a par with the balance sheet and sales pipeline. Only once you have the buy-in of the leadership team, can you really begin to make a difference.


44 | TOMORROW’S FM


Workplace wellbeing and mental health Recent ONS statistics found that suicide rates for a male in the construction industry was 3.7% above the national average. A shocking statistic, but something we can collectively work towards addressing.


By its very nature, the construction sector is predominantly (80%) male, and men are far more likely to take their own lives. With significant periods of time spent away from home, friends and family, loneliness can soon set in – compounded by job insecurity and intense pressure.


However, there is hope. By speaking openly about mental health in a shared forum, organisations can slowly break down any stigma that still surrounds the notion of discussing thoughts and feelings out loud.


Adequate policy and procedures It’s important to compile a bespoke policy and procedure which considers the nuances of your company. During the process, take the time to speak to colleagues and establish what genuinely matters to them – and be open


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