Mental Health Campaign to Pause Construction Activities in October

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Construction businesses are being urged to down tools for an hour in October to address physical and mental health problems.

The Construction Leadership Council is backing the ‘Stop. Make a Change’ (SMAC) campaign in October, which is urging all staff working in the construction industry to have an hour-long health and safety standdown to consider the risks and problems they face.

The campaign will focus on the individual worker this year, with added focus on how they have been affected by the pandemic. Workers will be encouraged to consider their own health, safety and wellbeing and be asked what needs to change to improve those areas, and how that change could be made.

CLC co-chair Andy Mitchell said: “Our industry workforce is crucial to all of our future successes. We recognise the heroic efforts these workers have undertaken during the pandemic, and want to make sure that, as the industry hopefully emerges from COVID-19, we continue to look after everyone’s health, safety and wellbeing.”

The 2021 edition of SMAC, which was launched in 2017, and this year runs from 11-22 October, recommends workers place emphasis on respiratory health, working with the plant, mental health and workplace stress, and cancer.

In 2019, 200,000 people working in the construction industry took part, stopping work for an hour to think about how their jobs and work-life could be improved. Conversation starter kits can be downloaded on the campaign’s website.

Earlier this month, the Health and Safety Executive released figures for 2020/21, which showed 39 people were killed by onsite accidents during the year. This was down from the 42 recorded the previous year but higher than the five-year average of 36.

Separately, a study by Glasgow Caledonian University found suicide rates among construction workers had risen to 29 per 100,000 in 2019 from 25 in 2015.

The relatively small overall increase hid a wide discrepancy in rates between different occupations. Suicides among unskilled workers, such as labourers, jumped more than 50 percent from 48 per 100,000 in 2015 to 73 per 100,000 in 2019. Conversely, the rate among non-manual workers, such as managers, fell from around seven per 100,000 to just under five.

The study also found no change in the historic trend that those in the construction industry were three times more likely to take their own lives than those in other sectors.

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