Mental health has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind over the last year. In May 2021, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week was to get out of the four walls, and into nature for some restorative therapy. Sounds like a good idea – we’ve all been locked up in an unhealthy situation, both for mind and body.
Apart from our general wellbeing, occupational mental health specifically has been under the spotlight in the construction industry, as the workforce prepares to resume on sites all over the country.
The CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) undertook research recently, which found that 26% of construction workers had suicidal thoughts. In fact, it has been noted by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) that stress, depression, and anxiety are the second biggest causes of ill health in the construction industry. In the CITB survey, 97% of workers experienced stress in the last year, while 45% are anxious about returning to work after furlough. Probably most poignant is that 84% of workers are worried about COVID-19 at work. There were further concerns about not only catching it on the job, but taking it home to families.
Providing insight through a survey like the CITB’s can help employers prepare to manage their workers’ safety and wellbeing concerns on the job. Hopefully, it encourages engagement, more open communication, and some relief over worries.
I’m always talking about the importance of data informing safety strategies. For example, if my team doesn’t know what’s going on, how can we address the client’s safety problem? Occupational health and safety are related – they interact. In our field, we provide solutions to prevent collisions between personnel and vehicles, where it’s a real and daily concern. If you are working in that kind of environment, there will be stress and worry over having a possible accident. That kind of stress can affect performance, and then affect your life outside the workplace. Health can suffer, not to mention if you’re the person who is struck by plant or a vehicle! Therefore, we suggest monitoring the site with our telematics tool that gathers site activity data to see where the ‘hot spots’ are for mishaps. When we suggest a safety solution, its implementation is then targeted right where it’s needed.
Help is at hand to boost safety performance by using the right tools. On top of everything else that workers are going through at the moment, including having concerns over COVID-19 effects, they shouldn’t have to worry about collision risks. This is the time to really tighten up safety practice, re-assess measures on site, and make high risk jobs as safe as they can be. Embrace technology to close risk gaps and use it to gather site data so you can prevent as many of those breaches as possible.
We’re all feeling the effects of radical change, and now, readjustment. There are positive reports of the UK economy bouncing back as business re-opens and the public increases spending. However, for many companies the future remains shadowy, and caution will inform the way forward.
In a world where the greatest risk to our wellbeing of late has been an invisible adversary, we can certainly up the ante on the devils we know, can see, and measure. When we say ‘be safe’ nowadays, it has a lot more weight to it, with a greater responsibility to watch out for each other. And I for one will make sure that we do all we can to help at risk site workers to return home, unharmed by plant collision, at the end of the day.