US Department of Labor, industry leaders, stakeholders call on employers, workers to combat surge in construction worker suicides

First published by OSHA

Safety stand-downs planned for Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 5-9

WASHINGTON – Construction workers often face some of their industry’s most serious dangers – such as falls from elevation, being struck or crushed by equipment or other objects, and electrocution – but recent studies suggest another occupational concern is lurking silently at U.S. worksites: worker suicides.

Box with text that reads 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
The 988 Suicide &; Crisis Lifeline is a direct connection – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to a national network of more than 200 local crisis centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the suicide rate for men in construction and extraction was five times greater than the rate of all other work-related fatalities in the industry in 2018, and these workers are four times more likely to end their own lives than people in the general population.

To assist workers in an industry with one of the nation’s highest occupational suicide rates, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has joined a task force of construction industry partners, unions and educators to raise awareness of the work stresses seen as the causes of depression and the thoughts and acts of suicide among construction workers. In addition to alerting other stakeholders, the task force encourages industry employers to share and discuss available resources with their workers.

Coinciding with Construction Suicide Prevention Week, the task force is calling on construction industry employers, trade groups and other stakeholders to join OSHA’s Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down, Sept. 5-9, 2022. This week-long event seeks to raise awareness of unique mental health challenges construction workers face by asking employers to pause work for a moment to share information and resources and urge employees to seek help if needed.

“Construction workers cope with unique causes of stress, such as uncertain seasonal work; remote work and job travel that keeps workers away from home and support systems; long, hard days and completion schedules; and the job-related risks of serious injuries,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “Left unchecked, these stressors can affect mental health severely and lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and – in some cases – suicide.”

The coronavirus outbreak and pandemic only worsened the problem, researchers found. In August 2020, the CDC reported a considerable one-year increase in symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder in a survey of the U.S. population.

Moved by their concern for a growing problem, a group of industry volunteers joined in 2020 to launch the first Suicide Prevention Week for construction workers. In 2021, more than 68,000 workers in 43 states registered to participate in Construction Suicide Prevention Week, managed by a task force comprised of OSHA, Associated General Contractors, The Builders Association, leading construction companies and labor unions.

“Suicide can be prevented with professional help and assistance,” Parker added. “OSHA encourages employers, industry associations, labor organizations and workers to use all available resources to understand the problem and the warning signs of depression before tragedy strikes.”

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a federally funded project designed to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for U.S. residents. Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the  988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the 998 lifeline is a national network of more than 200 local crisis centers, combining custom local care and resources with national standards and best practices.

Review these OSHA mental health and crisis resources.


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.

Suicide Prevention Month: ‘Employers can play an important role’

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Washington — September is Suicide Prevention Month, and OSHA is urging employers to actively promote available resources to all workers.

The month includes National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 4-10) and Construction Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 5-9).

Suicide is a leading cause of death among working-age adults in the United States, OSHA says. Additionally, 2 out of 5 U.S. adults have a mental health issue or substance use disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Work-related stress can have an impact on mental health and, without proper support, could lead to substance abuse and even suicide,” OSHA says. “Workers in the construction industry are generally at a higher risk for suicide due to work-related stress factors including seasonal/temporary employment, demanding work schedules and serious injuries, which are sometimes treated with opioids. Not addressing the underlying stressors or injuries can exacerbate mental health symptoms and may increase the risk of substance abuse or even suicide.

“By demonstrating their commitment to a safe and healthy workplace, employers can play an important role in reducing stigma and promoting mental health. In return, they may experience benefits such as improved workplace safety, higher morale, increased productivity, reduced turnover and decreased operating costs.”

The agency’s Preventing Suicides webpage has resources on developing mental health and safety programs, so workers can get the help they need. Among the goals of these programs:

  • Strive to create a workplace environment that fosters open communication and a sense of belonging.
  • Implement a workplace safety and health program that proactively identifies and addresses hazards that could lead to injuries or illnesses.
  • Provide resources and programs that promote employee health and well-being, as well as support work-life balance.
  • Inform employees of resources and treatment services available for mental health and substance use disorders through employee assistance or health insurance programs, or in the community.
  • Provide accommodations and return-to-work assistance for employees seeking treatment or who are in recovery.

 

The webpage also has links to 60-second public service announcements in English and Spanish, posters, and links to additional resources.

“When you work closely with someone, you may sense when something is wrong,” OSHA says. “If you are concerned about a co-worker, talk with them privately and listen without judgment. Encourage them to get help. If someone is in crisis, stay with them and get help. If you believe a co-worker is at immediate risk of suicide, stay with them until you can get further help. Contact emergency services or call 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.”


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.

SAMHSA working to turn National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to three-digit number

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Photo: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Rockville, MD — The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is helping to transition the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to a three-digit number – 988.

According to a press release, Congress designated the updated dialing code in 2020 and the Department of Health and Human Services, through SAMHSA, is investing $282 million for the transition. That funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget.

The 988 number is scheduled to be available for calling, texting or chatting nationwide beginning in July.

“Converting to this easy-to-remember, three-digit number will strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline network, providing the public with easier access to lifesaving services,” the release states. “The Lifeline currently helps thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day.”

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SAMHSA notes that suicide was the 10th-leading cause of death nationally in 2019. It was also the second-leading cause of death among young people that year.

CDC analysis published in 2020 and using 2016 data found that men in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction had a suicide rate of 54.2 per 100,000 workers. The overall average rate for men was 27.4. In addition, men and women in construction and extraction had suicide rates of 49.4 and 25.5, respectively.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 year-round at (800) 273-8255 (TALK).


McCraren Compliance offers training and programs to support companies in suicide awareness and prevention. Contact us for additional information to help you with this very important workplace safety.

OSHA announces stand-down on preventing construction worker suicides

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Image from CPWR

OSHA is urging employers in the construction industry to take part in a weeklong safety stand-down to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Slated for Sept. 6-10, the Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down coincides with National Suicide Prevention Month. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published last year concluded that male construction workers have one of the highest suicide rates when compared with other industries and are at four times greater risk than the general public.

“Work-related stress can have severe impacts on mental health and, without proper support, may lead to substance abuse and even suicide,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said in the release. “Workers in construction face many work-related stressors that may increase their risk factors for suicide, such as the uncertainty of seasonal work, demanding schedules and workplace injuries that are sometimes treated with opioids.”

An OSHA press release highlights a number of the agency’s resources that employers can use during the weeklong event, as well as others produced by construction industry groups. The agency has assembled a task force to help raise awareness on the types of stress that construction workers may face.

OSHA’s regional offices in Kansas City and St. Louis initiated the first stand-down last year in partnership with The Builders’ Association, the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, the University of Iowa, Washington University, the University of Kansas, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, local worker unions and several employers. The event included more than 5,000 participants, the release states.

                                                       

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.

Suicide prevention advocates release workplace guidelines, call on employers to act

Hierarchy-of-Controls.jpg

Photo: The National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention

Washington — A trio of advocacy groups is calling on employers to take a proactive role in suicide prevention in the workplace, and has published a new set of guidelines.

The National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention were developed by the American Association of Suicidology, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and United Suicide Survivors International – with input from experts in human resources, employment law and employee assistance; labor and safety leaders; and workers who have experienced a suicide crisis on the job.

In 2018, the groups conducted an online survey of 256 people from 41 states and found that 46% of the respondents said they knew at least one friend, co-worker or family member who had attempted suicide, while 43% reported having lost at least one friend to suicide. Additionally, a 2018 analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that suicides among the U.S. working age population rose 34% from 2000 to 2016.

According to the groups, the guidelines – part of an 88-page report – are applicable to small and large employers in all industries and throughout the public and private sectors. They:

  • Give employers and professional associations an opportunity to pledge to engage in the suicide prevention effort. To sign the pledge, go to WorkplaceSuicidePrevention.com.
  • Demonstrate an implementation structure for workplace best practices in a comprehensive, public health approach.
  • Provide data and resources to advance the cause of workplace suicide prevention.
  • Bring together diverse stakeholders in a collaborative public-private model.
  • Make recommendations for easily deployed tools, trainings, and resources for short-term action and comprehensive and sustained energy.

“We aim to change the culture of workplaces to reduce elements that cause job strain like sleep disruption, job insecurity and low job control – things shown to be connected to suicide risk,” AAS Executive Director Colleen Creighton said in a press release. “We know these guidelines will not only save lives, but will also alleviate intense emotional suffering by making changes to systems while helping individuals in the workplace.”

Study explores which generation of workers is most likely to consider suicide

Dallas — Millennial workers are more likely to contemplate suicide than any other age group – including up to five times more so than baby boomers – results of a recent analysis indicate.

Researchers at Catapult Health, a national preventive health care provider, looked at more than 157,000 patient records, including data from checkups conducted by the company at workplaces across 44 states.

They found that, of the patients younger than 30, 2.3 per 1,000 reported not only considering suicide, but also having a plan to carry it out. For workers 60 and older, that rate was 0.4 per 1,000 and, across all age groups, the average was 0.86.

“The numbers may seem small,” Catapult CEO David Michel said in a May 1 press release, “but if your company has 5,000 employees, that means that at any given moment four of them are probably seriously considering suicide, and the number is higher if you employ more younger workers.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among millennials and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

In addition, workers younger than 30 are significantly more likely to experience depression than older employees, Catapult states.

“It is imperative that employers help their employees recognize depression and provide the resources to overcome it,” Michel said in the release.