Construction worker suicide: New video talks about mental health, stigma

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Photo: Mechanical Contractors Association of America

Rockville, MD — Mental health is “just as important for your safety as that harness or anything else that you’re wearing,” Mechanical Contractors Association of America member Ricky Reams says in a new video.

MCAA’s video spotlights mental health awareness and suicide prevention in the construction industry, which has experienced elevated rates of suicide.

Experts say physical strain, deadline pressure and a macho culture may make it more difficult for workers to talk about mental health struggles.

“There’s fear of shame. We’re going to be judged,” Brandon Anderson, vice president of safety at AGC of Missouri and a survivor of previous suicide attempts, says in the video. “The guilt that, ‘I’m not strong enough to deal with that.’”

Sally Spencer-Thomas, a psychologist and international speaker on mental health awareness and suicide prevention, calls on the industry to reduce stigma around mental health.

“The thing that makes you really good at this job – tough-mindedness, stoicism, decisiveness, perseverance; you’ve got to have that to be able to do this work – is also the thing that makes you most vulnerable to suicide and overdose because you are least likely to reach out for support,” Spencer-Thomas said.

“What that culture tells you is to be self-reliant, to [bear through it], whatever the thing is. It’s stress. It’s pain. You just keep pushing. And that doesn’t work well for any kind of health issue. We have to change that culture.”

Anderson reminds construction professionals who suspect a worker is struggling to approach them with compassion.

Spencer-Thomas offers additional tips:

  • Start with expression of care: “I care about you. You matter to me.”
  • Tell them, “I’ve noticed …” – and then list specific behaviors or things that have changed, suggesting they don’t seem like themselves lately.
  • “Tell me what’s going on, tell me what’s happening for you.”
  • Listen with empathy and compassion.
  • If enough warning signs are present, pivot and ask directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?”

MCAA highlights resources including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number – 988.


Save the date: National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-By Incidents

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Washington — The National Stand-Down to Prevent Struck-By Incidents is set for April 15-19.

This annual event – scheduled in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week – aims to raise awareness of struck-by hazards and how to prevent them.

“Struck-by hazards are present on nearly every jobsite, and include things like falling and flying objects, vehicles and heavy equipment, and swing hazards from cranes,” says event co-sponsor CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. “These incidents are the number one cause of nonfatal injuries in construction and the leading cause of death among heavy and civil construction workers, but they can be avoided by careful planning, training and the use of controls.”

Employers are encouraged to use the stand-down as an opportunity to pause the workday for safety demonstrations, toolbox talks and training opportunities.

NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda Construction Sector Council coordinates the stand-down, working in partnership with OSHA, CPWR, and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Stress-related sleep problems may put migrant roofers in danger

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Photo: fantom_rd/iStockphoto

Houston — Migrant roofing workers are more likely to experience poor sleep quality, which may put them at increased risk of injury, Rice University researchers say.

A team analyzed surveys and in-depth interviews with more than 400 migrant roofers who work in communities impacted by natural disasters.

The researchers identified numerous factors that contributed to shorter sleep duration, restlessness and general sleep problems among migrant roofers. Factors included stress related to working fewer days per month, being out of work, and lacking legal authorization to work. Additionally, workers who lived in temporary housing were shown to be at greater risk of poor sleep quality than roofers who had permanent housing.

In a press release, Sergio Chavez, study lead author and Rice University associate professor of sociology, said a lack of sleep can add to the danger of what is already “harrowing” work.

“Migrant workers form part of a growing occupational group that rebuilds in the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes,” the researchers write in the study. “The work these migrant workers perform is essential but also unstable, exploitative and dangerous, which stresses their health and well-being.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health will meet on Feb. 21-22 in Washington

Committee, workgroup meetings will be held in person, online

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has scheduled a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health for Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.

The meeting will include remarks from the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker, updates on the construction industry from OSHA’s Directorate of Construction, a discussion about women in construction, reports from committee workgroups and a period during which the public is invited to make comments.

Three ACCSH workgroups will meet on Feb. 21. The Emerging Technology workgroup from 9-11 a.m.; the Workzone workgroup from 12-2 p.m.; and the Health in Construction workgroup from 2:10-4:10 p.m.

The full committee and workgroup meetings are open to the public and will be held in Conference Room C-5521, Room 4, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington DC 20210. Public attendance in-person is limited to 25 people.

To register for in-person attendance, contact Gretta Jameson at jameson.grettah@dol.gov by Feb. 15. Submit comments and requests to speak at the Federal eRulemaking Portal, Docket Number OSHA-2024-0002, by Feb. 15. Be sure to include the docket number on all submissions. Details on how to attend online are included in the docket and are available on the ACCSH webpage. Read the Federal Register notice for submission details.

The Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, also known as the Construction Safety Act, established the committee to advise the Secretary of Labor and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health on CSA-related policy matters and the setting of construction standards.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Safety leadership for residential construction: Free training from CPWR

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Photo: CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training

Silver Spring, MD — A new training program from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training is aimed at helping residential construction supervisors improve their communication and leadership skills.

Free to download, the Foundations for Safety Leadership for Residential Construction is based on CPWR’s Foundations for Safety Leadership training course. FSL became available in 2017 as an OSHA 30-hour elective and is still being used as a stand-alone training.

The training – developed by the Healthy Work Center at Washington University in St. Louis in collaboration with CPWR – divides the 2.5-hour FSL training into five 30-minute sessions with a short booster session. This allows presenters to tailor the training to different audiences and locations.

The training’s interactive format features various safety scenarios that require learners to decide which leadership skills to use to prevent falls and other workplace hazards.

CPWR says practicing effective leadership skills can help supervisors and construction team leaders:

  • Improve worker safety practices and jobsite safety climate.
  • Reduce jobsite hazards and injuries.
  • Increase morale and a sense of teamwork.
  • Improve jobsite communication.

In addition, CPWR’s website features downloadable resources, including a leadership skills poster, six different skill sheets with a refresher video, an FAQ page on the training and a paper airplane activity that demonstrates the importance of practicing three-way communication.

CPWR says nearly 1 million construction professionals have taken the FSL training.


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

‘Be willing to listen’: Experts discuss suicide prevention in construction

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Photo: A-Digit/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — Smaller construction companies may have an advantage when it comes to helping workers find counseling and mental health services amid the industry’s ongoing suicide crisis.

To Jessica Bunting, director of the Research to Practice initiative at CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, companies with fewer employees are “already ahead of the game” in that regard. Bunting was one of a panel of experts who spoke during a Nov. 9 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council Divisions.

“It’s so much easier to accept help from someone that you already know and trust,” she said. “And so, I think if the leaders of these small companies can find it within themselves to be vulnerable and they’re building a sense of community, that sets them up to really change the whole culture of the company when it comes to both mental health and safety.”

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that construction occupations have the second-highest rate of suicide, ranking behind mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.

Increasing awareness and limiting stigma around the issue is the goal of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, whose executive director, Sonya Bohmann, facilitated the discussion with various members of the CIASP board of trustees.

Nick Robins – an environmental, health and safety official with Lendlease, a multinational construction and real estate company – called on employers to go beyond simply forming strategies for prevention. A good place to start? Acknowledging the issue and keeping an open dialogue about resources available to workers.

“The more you talk about it, the less stigma there is with it,” Robins said. “But to talk about it, you have to start the conversation. Once you start it, it’s hard to stop people. It really is. Because there will be people, the advocates, who will step forward and they’ve been waiting for this. So, start the conversation. Be willing to listen, give the time.”

Justin Azbill, director of national EHS at Milwaukee Tool, said assistance must be proactive rather than reactive. One step toward accomplishing this, he said, is educating employers “to be able to learn how to have conversations” about mental health as well as on “the importance of not diagnosing but understanding ways to get help.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Coupling devices for excavator buckets: NIOSH publishes fact sheet

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Photo: Dzmitry Kaprusynka/iStockphoto

Washington — A new fact sheet from NIOSH is aimed at workers who use quick coupling devices to change excavator buckets and other attachments.

Quick couplers are common in construction work. However, buckets or attachments may unintentionally fall from excavators because of improper securement of the bucket or attachment, mechanical or hydraulic failure in the coupler, or unsafe opening of the coupler by the operator, NIOSH says.

Among the agency’s tips:

  • Use quick couplers manufactured with design features and processes to prevent the unintentional release of buckets or attachments, such as models with alerting systems to signal whether the connection was successful.
  • Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for equipment when planning job tasks. For example, many manufacturers state that ground workers shouldn’t be within the swing radius/swing zone of an excavator arm.
  • Ensure machine operators always conduct visual inspections on the excavator and quick coupler before starting work. Remove from service any excavator with functional issues and tag it with a “Do not operate” sign.
  • Establish communication methods between the excavator operator and ground workers before starting work.
  • Make sure operators lower the excavator arm to the ground before exiting the cab.

NIOSH encourages employers, supervisors and equipment suppliers to “share and apply these recommended practices at the worksite.”


McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email info@mccrarencompliance.com or visit our website www.mccrarencompliance.com

Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

In the works: Training program on psychological safety in construction

Original article published by Safety+Health
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Photo: Missouri Department of Transportation/Flickr

Pullman, WA — A construction worker turned college professor is developing training aimed at strengthening psychological safety in the construction industry.

Hongtao Dang, assistant professor of construction management at Washington State University, will work with construction firms to gather data and information for case studies, according to a university press release. Those studies are expected to aid in the development of student and instructor manuals to be used in training modules.

“Each manual includes a case study that will be based on real work scenarios, with any identifying information about the project or people removed,” the release states. “The scenarios will be focused on inclusion, diversity and equity; professional development and personal growth; mental health and team success; and active care and suicide prevention.

“After being presented with a case study, the workers will have the chance to think about, discuss and share solutions in small groups. The trainer later helps the group understand what might be an optimal solution.”

Dang is using a grant from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry to fund the development of the program, which builds on his previous work on DEI training for construction safety managers.

“I know what the jobsite culture looks like – how good or bad it can be,” he said. “From that experience, I think it’s important for me to be a catalyst to potentially transform the jobsite culture and to make it more inclusive and safer for people to work there. If we can improve psychological safety on the jobsite, we can improve productivity, safety and project quality. … Every person who works on the jobsite deserves to be safe.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

‘Total human health’ now part of construction association’s best practices

Original article published by Safety+Health

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Photo: Associated Builders and Contractors

Washington — A whole-person approach is a key component of an effective worker safety program, Associated Builders and Contractors says in its latest guide on safety best practices in the construction industry.

ABC, a national trade association representing the non-union construction industry, defines “total human health” in its 2023 Safety Performance Report. The report is based on 2022 data from companies that take part in ABC’s STEP Safety Management System. ABC collects each organization’s OSHA Form 300A data and “self-assessment of leading indicator practices” from its STEP application.

In a March 28 press release, ABC says total human health incorporates:

  • A whole-person approach to engage a person’s body, mind, heart and soul.
  • Psychological safety that’s respectful and inclusive of a diverse workforce.
  • Acknowledgement of the risk of distraction and impairment, and responding with appropriate care.

The report details the “foundations of world-class safety,” based on more than 850 million work hours by STEP participants in construction, civil engineering and specialty trades, among other segments:
New-hire safety orientation: Companies that conduct an in-depth indoctrination of new employees into the safety culture, systems and processes based on a documented orientation process experience incident rates that are 48%-52% lower than those that limit their orientations to basic health and safety compliance topics.
Substance abuse prevention programs: Robust substance abuse prevention programs/policies with provisions for drug and alcohol testing, where permitted, lead to a 59% reduction in total recordable incident rates and a 62% reduction in days away, restricted or transferred rates.
Toolbox talks: Companies that conduct daily toolbox talks reduce TRIR by 78% and DART rates by 76% compared with those that do so on a monthly basis.
Top management engagement: Employer involvement at the highest level of company management produces a 55% reduction in DART rates and a 54% reduction in TRIR.

“Top-performing ABC STEP members actively build health and safety into their culture, creating industry-leading, holistic safety programs to protect their workers and deliver for their clients,” Greg Sizemore, vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development at ABC, said in the release. “STEP measures performance on key components, strengthens and expands best practices, and builds safety culture. Our people are our greatest asset, and ABC will continue to advance world-class safety for our people through valuable resources like the ‘Safety Performance Report.’”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Steel erectors association releases poster on pre-task meetings

Original article published by Safety+Health

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Photo: Steel Erectors Association of America

Winston-Salem, NC — The Steel Erectors Association of America has created a downloadable poster for the 10th annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction – set for May 1-5.

The voluntary OSHA event is intended to prevent fall-related deaths and injuries by raising awareness of hazards. SEAA’s new poster features advice and recommendations for pre-task meetings. Among the tips for “before” a meeting:

  • Identify tasks that involve the most risk.
  • Decide if employees will need refresher training on the risky tasks.
  • Determine if an interpreter will be needed for non-English-speaking workers.

And “after”:

  • Supervisor should conduct periodic checks to ensure the plan is being followed.
  • Ask for feedback on how to improve the meetings.

Then, the poster covers what it calls “the basics.” These include:

  • The supervisor hosting the meeting near the work area.
  • Putting up barricades to prevent entry, if needed.
  • Establishing and communicating the process.

The poster also offers ideas for getting teams involved in the pre-task meetings, such as assigning a different person to lead each meeting, reviewing proper personal protective equipment to wear, and having the crew identify hazards and how they’d fix them.

Two posters from previous years – 11 Tips for Post-Fall Recovery and 7 Tips for Planning a Stand-Down Event – are still available.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.