In these last few days of Mental Health Awareness Month, we would like to shed some light on the direct correlation between strong mental health and a safe jobsite.
No one can deny the physical demands of a career in construction. We all are well aware of the physical load that comes with working in the industry. Physical strength and ability are necessary to complete labor-intensive jobs across all trades. But the struggles we don’t see actually have a greater impact on individuals than we could ever imagine. Construction workers carry a heavy mental load day in and day out in order to solve complex problems. The top three mental loads construction industry workers must carry are:
- High-stress situations
- Inconsistent work
- Long hours
Let’s dive into each in greater detail.
While there is no satisfaction quite like completing a project, there is a lot of mental strain that comes along the way. Daily high-stress situations, whether that be maneuvering heavy machinery on treacherous terrain or working on a tight deadline, often lead many in the industry to heavy alcohol or substance use.
Working in construction often comes with unexpected changes, from schedule shifts to material shortages, pay changes and project delays. Industry members need to be resilient to manage these inconsistencies. Sure, the ever-changing reality is often exciting, but it is also challenging for many.
A career in construction comes with early mornings, late nights and weekend work. The long hours lead to both physical and mental fatigue that are draining for all.
When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to carry these mental loads and work more safely. Why? With better mental health, we are better able to be more focused on the job and, therefore, less likely to have an accident. Not only that, when we take care of ourselves, we are better able to take care of others. This, in turn, allows us to create a safer workplace overall. When mental health isn’t a priority, safety suffers. Construction Dive reports that recent studies show that 60% to 70% of all safety incidents have an underlying wellness issue as a factor.
A mentally well workforce is a safe workforce. So, what can we workers do? No matter if you’re a leader or team member, we encourage you to:
- Be on the lookout for signs of excess stress and anxiety. This can be challenging, as many construction workers struggle with sharing their feelings in the competitive, often hypermasculine workforce. Click here for more information about common work-related stress signs.
- Create a supportive work culture both on and off the jobsite. Click here for a few strategies from the CDC to help you get you started.
We talk at length about traditional safety standards. Let’s move the conversation to total wellbeing for the safest industry possible.