Chartered Building Surveyor James Barron says the construction industry must make a New Year’s resolution to do more to look after those employees suffering mental health conditions.
James believes Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics are showing a general decline in work related ill health and injury since the 1990’s, together with a general slowing of asbestos related incidences of ill health.
While that is good news, he says the construction industry must not be complacent when it comes to employees suffering work related mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety, which have risen in recent years.
“It is of course important to accentuate the positive here and recognise that such increases, although troubling, do show a greater awareness and willingness to both discuss and report this kind of ill health,” said James.
“There was a time we didn’t talk about mental health, but now is the time we must keep talking about it. This of course applies to all sectors, but in my opinion, the construction industry clearly has a lot to do in terms of looking after workers and must not become complacent.”
James said that the crux of the issue here is that construction and building remains one of the most challenged areas of work for safety and health.
It is an industry where workers have always faced physical risks, but now the emotional and mental strains are also coming to light and their impact on health is only just being realised.
“Construction is notorious for tight deadlines, tight budgets and complex management” added James.
“People can find themselves responsible for a lot of money, employees and time, too often without the required training or support. Little wonder then that this puts strain on their mental well-being.
“We all have a part to play in making building safer. As we plan and manage projects, ensuring sufficient time, training and support for all workers and professionals should be just as important as delivering the project on time and on budget.”