How Mental Health Awareness is a Top Priority Within Shiel Sexton…

There is no question that safety is a top priority in the construction industry. We want to ensure that construction workers feel safe on the job and are given the necessary tools in order to perform their job in a safe and effective manner. However, one of the most common misperceptions about safety is that it solely encompasses physical health, but that’s simply not the case.

Now, it goes without saying that the physical health of an employee is important. Yet the mental health and emotional well-being of an employee is equally as important but tends to be overlooked. Everyone knows the dangers of the construction industry, and it’s time to acknowledge that poor mental health is one of the biggest dangers in the industry.

On February 10th, Frank Duck, our VP of Operations, gave a presentation regarding mental health in the construction industry. As he discussed in his presentation, mental health is not a frequently discussed topic in construction, however, that should change. 

In his talk, Frank revealed three things that the construction industry tends to overlook which are burnout, addiction, and suicide.

With COVID-19, burnout has increased substantially in construction workers. To make up for the shortage of workers, employees are working longer days and extra shifts to stay on track with project schedules. Because of this, these employees are pushed to their limits and simply can’t keep up with increasing demand.

Construction workers frequently search for a way to relieve their stress, and that often results in turning to alcohol. According to the Department of Labor Statistics, in the last ten years, over 18% of construction workers reported heavy alcohol consumption. Furthermore, a more serious level of addiction comes from opioid pain medications. Historically, these medications have been overprescribed for conditions such as a sore back or for minor surgeries, which are common issues that construction workers face.

Suicide is one of the most tragic safety risks that occurs in this industry. Upsettingly, men in construction are 4 times more likely to be victims of suicide than the general population. We all want what is best for our employees, and a great way to start is by recognizing the importance of mental health for our workers and creating a work environment that supports that.