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

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.

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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

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


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.

Preventing suicide and overdose in the construction industry: Takeaways from CPWR workshop

Original article published by Safety+Health

Photo: CPWR

Washington — A new white paper from CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training details key takeaways from a two-day workshop on “Combating Suicide and Overdose Fatalities Among Construction Workers.”

The workshop took place Aug. 1-2 in the nation’s capital and was funded by NIOSH.

The white paper outlines training available to help workers, best practices for training effectiveness, and smartphone apps to use and hotlines to call when a worker is in need. The resource also looks at related challenges, such as stigma.

CPWR Executive Director Chris Trahan Cain highlights research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that both male and female workers in construction and extraction jobs “have a higher prevalence of dying by suicide than the average male or female worker.”

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.