May 8, 2020
By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President
Referring to a male-dominated industry made up of tough people who do not talk about their feelings, Te-Ping Chen (2020) wrote in his March 11, 2020, Wall Street Journal article, Construction Industry Tackles Suicide, an Occupational Hazard, “Among occupations in the U.S., workers in construction and extraction face the highest rate of suicide, according to a January report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on March 11, 2020, here). This problem is exacerbated by many contractors who do not have a Human Resources department and offer few employee benefits.
Te-Ping Chen (2020) lists various approaches to suicide prevention that others have adopted:
- “Showing all new hires a safety video featuring a discussion of mental-health awareness.
- Safety posters [to] include illustrations emphasizing the importance of mental wellness.
- [Training] managers and foremen in mental-health awareness and outfit[ing]hard hats with “Need to Talk?” stickers encouraging co-workers to reach out if they need assistance.
- Printing shirts for workers with mottoes such as “Never lose hope” and the number for a suicide hotline.
- Converting … on-site construction trailers into “safe rooms” where workers can come before their shifts for peer-to-peer discussions about mental-health struggles they may be facing” (ibid)
Since January of 2017, PHCC National continues to be a proud member of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) and its Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. There are useful resources available for our members to use at all levels of the Federation and can be found here (Click on “Resources”). There is important information locals can use for newsletters and other materials available to contractors for their use. As noted on the CFMA website, “Construction is the number one industry for number of suicides and the number two industry in suicide rates. As such, it is an industry imperative to shatter the mental health stigma and create caring cultures within our companies.”