As employers we should all be focusing on keeping our employees safe whilst they are at work, we provide them with the correct PPE and equipment they need to carry out their tasks safely. We ensure that risk assessments are carried out to make sure that practices are also safe. However, there is one area that we may be ignoring – mental health.
With one in four people in the UK experiencing either stress, anxiety or depression, Mates in Mind aims specifically to raise awareness and understanding of mental health in the construction industry. Martin Coyd, Head of Health and Safety, Construction at Mace said “This is a great opportunity for the industry to come together and improve the lives of millions.”
Some people might wrongly assume that the construction industry isn’t really affected because the workers are predominantly men, but infact one in eight men suffer with depression. It has been estimated that the number of deaths from suicide in the construction industry could be up to 10 times higher than those from fatal accidents at work. Emphasising that mental health issues really aren’t something that should be ignored.
Mates in Mind is about providing training to all workers, to remove the stigma of weakness long associated with mental health issues and to spot the signs when they or a colleague may need help. Mates in Mind are working with several charities who will provide the professional help and all that they are asking is that we all take the time to ask “how are you today?” and not to be fobbed off with a “mustn’t grumble” answer.
Chris Ivey, THSP Health and Safety Director agrees “we fully support Mates in Mind and for this reason all of our consultant team have asked to and will be attending the initial induction training, whilst several are planning to attend more advanced training.”
He added “it highlights the importance of workers looking out for each other, a theme that is consistent within the Behavioural Based Safety programmes we have begun to roll out for several of our customers.”
We need to see a shift in focus, to not only be on the procedures and processes that we put in place to protect our workforce, but to taking notice of the individuals themselves. Something that Chris also strongly believes “for years the construction industry has been using engineering solutions to reduce harm to the workforce, having achieved significant success it’s time we looked at the human element.”