Last week I gave a presentation on mental health to around 85 people working at the Skanska Balfour Beatty JV site on the M25 junction 30. It was a follow-up to Mental Health Awareness week (11- 17 May 2016).
The presentation was part of our continued drive to raise awareness of health, safety and wellbeing on construction sites.
Why mental health?
The workforce is any organisation’s biggest asset, so it is important to look after your team’s wellbeing. Poor mental health can result in low morale, poor timekeeping, lack of motivation, poor productivity and decision making.
Employees who suffer from work-related stress may also suffer from anxiety, depression, increased illness and absence from work. Stress can also impact people physically through poor health including high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and increased risk of heart attack, as well as result in drug and alcohol abuse.
This is an issue which can have a considerable impact on the industry, with pressures such as the stress and demands to meet project deadlines and the risks involved in completing jobs quickly, increasing the likelihood of mental health issues.There are heavy workloads, long working hours, travel, family separation, fear of redundancy and job insecurity, financial and budgeting pressures, tight deadlines and high risk activities. All of these can potentially lead to poor mental health.
A Construction Manager article from 2012 described “the image of the tough male who doesn’t show emotion.” It said that one third of men would be embarrassed to see a GP for feelings of depression, and that it can be very hard for men in this industry to discuss stress and mental health with their boss.
The CCS ‘Spotlight on mental health’ quotes a Good Day at Work Annual Report for 2014/2015 which focused on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. The report said that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any year. Poor mental health affects anyone. The report also quotes HSE statistics for 2012-13 which showed that 428,000 out of 1.8m new work-related illness conditions in the UK were down to stress, anxiety or depression. The average number of days lost per year due to mental health was 24 days across all industries.
The HSE website sets out management standards: six key areas of work design that an organisation can use to manage and control the risks from work-related stress.
The construction industry helpline, in partnership with Considerate Constructors Scheme, is there to support construction workers with stress, depression and anxiety issues.
It aims to be a ‘go to’ for construction worker issues outside any employee assistance scheme. It is available to all within the industry, especially small and medium sized companies that don’t have in-house initiatives.
The presentation is one of our library of 16 presentations. Other presentations include ecology, risk assessments, bribery and ethics, and spill prevention and response. The presentations aim to give the workforce a general understanding of the issues they may face, and what actions they can take. Each presentation lasts about 20 to 30 minutes and can be tailored to fit a particular project or site requirement.
We are happy to include a whole team, not just VGC Group employees. This forms part of our Be Safe behavioural safety programme. If you would like further details, or wish to consider if your team may also benefit from a presentation, please contact the HSQE team here at Cardinal House.