Suicide Prevention in Construction: The Next Dimension of Safety

Over the past 25 years, a focus on improved safety practices and attention to training and prevention have reduced the rate of construction workplace fatalities by one third from 15/100,000 in 2014 to 9.5/100,000 in 2017. These statistics show that a cultural shift in attitude toward safety guided by leadership support and investment can turn the tide on preventable deaths. It is this same mindset that is necessary to move the needle on an even greater danger to construction workers – suicide. According to a CDC Report released in 2018, more construction workers die by suicide each year than any other industry – at a rate of 53.2/100,000. This rate is not only over 5x greater than the workplace fatality rate, but 4x greater than the suicide rate of the general population.

As an industry who has a large part of its workforce made up of white, middle age males without a college education (the demographic population most at risk of suicide) and combined with a large number of veterans (whose suicide rate is 1.5 times greater than the non-veteran population) we are at increased risk for suicide before you even begin to consider the industry specific factors. When you add in the elements of a “tough guy” mentality where talking about feelings or struggles may be looked down upon; a transient workforce where peer relationships may not be encouraged; erratic work hours and location – requiring travel and time away from families and physical pain resulting from work related injuries or wear and tear (and resulting drug use/self medicating) it might not be as surprising as first thought why construction is so at risk for suicide.

 

Read the full article on Tunnel Business Magazine.

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