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Published in Construction on 24/08/2020

Employee Mental Wellbeing Major Safety Concern for Construction Companies


CNI Editor reports

A survey carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of the Construction Industry Federation has shown that mental well-being has become a significant safety concern for construction companies.

Commenting on the research, Director of Safety, Dermot Carey said “The construction industry is well recognised as an industry that takes safety very seriously.  During industry shutdown, our membership designed a world class standard operating procedure and induction programme that enabled over 180,000 people return to work safely.  Even before the pressure of Covid-19, the industry was working hard to help positively affect their employees’ mental wellbeing.  For us, mental health has huge implications for onsite safety and we are working with members to help them help employees in this area.  Our survey shows the challenges facing over 47,000 SME and micro-enterprises in the industry in terms of managing wellbeing.  If we can support these companies to manage mental wellbeing, we could have a major positive impact on society. To this end, the CIF has produced a guidance note for the industry on supporting mental health amongst its workforce.

We’re hoping that construction SMEs will bring the topic of mental wellbeing into their corporate strategy.  We’re encouraging companies to make wellbeing part of the company safety culture through regular toolbox talks on site for example.  Companies should also set up wellbeing committees within the organisation focused on engaging with staff and running events around mental well-being (ie workshops, inviting speakers to talk about important issues: anxiety, depression, suicide, interactive events about well-being, eating and lifestyle).  As ever, assigned a senior individual to monitor, measure and manage employee mental-wellbeing, will help ensure wellbeing becomes embedded in company culture.  As a first step, we are encouraging all companies to sign up to an EAP service; the CIF is partnering with Laya Healthcare & Spectrum to provide such as service to its members. 

The CIF is undertaking a year-long initiative to support mental wellbeing amongst its 1400 members and the wider industry.  This October (w/c 19th October), mental wellbeing will be a central theme in the CIF’s annual construction safety week.  This campaign promotes safety across all sectors of the industry with a particular focus on SMEs, micro-enterprises and unqualified people engaging in construction activity.  The vast majority of accidents and fatalities now occur amongst sole-traders, microenterprises and individuals carrying out repairs and one-off construction.

This year, the CIF has engaged Rory O’Connor from Rory’s stories, as its safety ambassador to promote safety in construction.  Rory will carry out dozens of safety and wellbeing toolbox talks around the country across August, September and October.