Sadly young male construction workers are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide than anyone else, which is why projects such as Mates in Construction are of such importance.
Recently construction workers involved in the NorthConnex tunnel construction underwent suicide prevention training provided by Mates in Construction.
The organisation is a charity organisation that aims to tackle the high suicide rate among construction workers in Australia.
Over 400 workers from the NorthConnex project took part in the training sessions held by Mates in Construction at the West Pennant Hills training hub.
Why is this important?
In 2015, 3027 people committed suicide in Australia – in other words 58 suicides weekly and 8 every single day. Men are at a higher risk, as statistics from The Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that 2292 men and 735 women committed suicide in that year.
Even more alarming particularly for us in the construction sector is that construction workers are 6 times more likely to commit suicide than to be killed in a workplace incident.
These are the most common reasons people in this sector attempt suicide:
Pending legal issues
Pending or recent unemployment
In a recent post a worker at the NorthConnex project, Pam Truscott described the problem as part of the culture,
“Maybe men just don’t like to talk about it,” she said.
Communication seems to be a big part of the problem with only one in two male construction workers actually speaking to someone before attempting suicide. Statistics also show that only one in seven seek professional help.
A Mates In Construction representative, Carolyn Kelso explained that it was about getting construction workers to talk to their mates about whatever was bothering them before it became to heavy of a burden for them to carry.
She went on to state,
“We do have a problem in this industry,”
“It’s about mates helping mates. If you have a gut feeling that something’s off with your mate or they are acting differently — say something.
“That could stop a suicide and you could save a life. You may not even know that you’ve saved their life.”
One of the training sessions was attended by Berowra federal Liberal MP Julian Leeser who stated that the issue was particularly close to his heart after his own father died from suicide. He has spoken out about the importance of abolishing stigma around the issue.
“We know that suicide is approximately three times higher among men than women,” he said.
“In particular, the rate of suicide in the construction industry is alarmingly high.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland will be conducting traffic management assessments between March and May this year with inspectors visiting construction workplaces, as well as other industries, wherever mobile plant such as forklifts, elevating work platforms and cranes are in operation as well as other vehicles such as cars and trucks.
The aim of the campaign is to highlight the risks of interaction between mobile plant/vehicles and people on work sites. Inspectors will be helping identify effective traffic management plans.
This is a particularly important issue given that 12 workers were killed in incidents involving moving vehicles or plant equipment between 2009 and 2014. During that time there also 947 workers’ compensation claims for serious injuries accepted.
Timber is making a major comeback with developers and builders embracing the centuries old building material.
In a recent post the convenience of timber construction was discussed citing a Campbelltown site where 4 apartment towers are being built with almost the only noise you can hear coming from another site nearby.
With conventional steel and concrete construction there is more noise where as the only sound you hear with timber buildings are the thuds of the panels being put into place.
As one developer put it, timber is ideal for taking projects higher, literally. These are not using conventional wooden panels but manufactured, engineered materials collectively known as mass timber.
One example is cross-laminated timber (CLT) — layers of wood, glued together under high pressure with the grain of each perpendicular to the one before making for a strong and durable product.
NSW may become the safest state with the launch of a new $3.2 million safety campaign.
The “Safety starts with you” campaign was developed as a way to address the concerning number of workplace injuries and illnesses in the state.
As Peter Dunphy, SafeWork NSW executive director points out, we need to do a lot more to improve workplace health and safety in the state, as evidenced by the alarming statistics. In 2015/16 there were 30,902 major workplace injuries and illnesses and 60 fatalities. The economic burden of these workplace injuries is estimated at $17.3 billion.
The ACT has experienced an alarming number of apprentice workplace injuries, and according to media reports, 3 were injured on Canberra worksites. Up to seven trainee tradies lodged compensation claims.
Nail gun related injuries and screws to limbs, timber and metal in eyes, lacerated fingers, strained backs and twisted ankles as well as head injuries are among the incidents reported.
ACT government statistics show that 110 incidents involving apprentices have taken place that were serious enough to lodge a compensation claim.
The adequate construction safety training and supervision of apprentices is crucial in bringing down these high incident rates in the construction sector.