Via Building Connection Australia
Mental health among construction workers has long been a taboo subject, but it’s a topic that the industry must prioritise in order to keep people safe and enjoy their occupation. Research from mental health body, MATES in Construction (MATES), shows that suicide is sadly the main cause of death for Australians working in construction. Its research also found that workers in the sector are six times more likely to die by suicide than by workplace accidents.
As an industry with 87.3% male participation, construction has Australia’s highest proportion of males in the workforce. This produces greater negative masculinity sentiments, which is unfortunately reflected in research that found suicide risk for construction workers to be 53% higher in comparison to men employed in other fields of work in Australia.
The impact of mental health issues for tradies presents both a concerning picture of health for those in construction and a detrimental economic loss. According to MATES, the industry loses at least $1.5 billion each year due to suicide and suicidal behaviour. As shocking as that statistic may be, the data highlights an opportunity for construction companies to start taking the mental health of their workforce seriously.
State lockdowns and construction restrictions
Lockdowns and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a lot of uncertainty for many industries, and construction is no exception.
From 19-30 July 2021, the NSW government ordered for a pause on all construction work, to halt the spread of COVID-19. The Construction Forestry Maritime Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) estimated that more than 350,000 jobs were affected, at a cost of about $1.4 billion to the NSW economy per week. The state also had a period where workers residing in Sydney’s eight local government areas (LGAs) of concern were not able to work, which affected roughly two in five (40%) of the city’s construction workers.
Lockdowns and restrictions have been on and off nationwide over the last few months and this is a trend that many expect to continue. That means it’s now more important than ever before for companies to have the right ongoing support in place to give workers peace of mind during these challenging times.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The national peak body and non-profit that addresses mental health issues amongst construction workers is MATES. MATES provides suicide prevention through social development programmes on-site and by helping workers in need through case management and a 24/7 helpline.
Mental health is a serious issue, not just for construction workers but for all. It’s important for businesses that are responsible for the well-being of their employees to do their best to ensure that people feel supported, especially during tough times.
To find out more about MATES, visit their website here: