According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 976 workplace deaths took place in the construction industry in 2020. While construction hazards that cause death are typically associated with falls, getting struck by a piece of heavy equipment, or electrocutions, a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found another danger facing the construction industry. According to a recent study conducted by the CDC in 2020, rates of suicide in the construction industry were the second highest in the U.S., equating to about 5,500 suicides per year. This equates to a rate of about 4 times higher than the general population.

More research is currently being completed and additional support is being organized by a variety of construction organizations to understand why suicide is more prevalent in the construction industry than any other industry. The CDC postulates underlying psychological issues such as stress and depression can be impacted by the workplace and job strain and long hours can be important risk factors for suicidal thought in the working population. But there are effective strategies to help combat suicides in the industry. Creating and maintaining healthy work organizations, increasing worker job control and ensuring an optimal level of work demands (including 40 hours or less of work per week) can help reduce suicides in the industry. There are many organizations developing and implementing these resources and strategies. Contractors, insurance agencies, unions and academic institutions, federal, state and local government entities are all developing resources and effective strategies to implement across the industry.

So what are some of the resources available to the trades to reduce and prevent suicides within the industry? In September 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) signed an alliance agreement to promote workplace mental health and suicide prevention awareness. During the two-year agreement, OSHA and AFSP will develop information and products on workplace mental health and suicide prevention awareness in multiple languages that reflect diversity in the workforce and encourage workers’ sense of belonging. OSHA is not the only organization that provides helpful resources for suicide prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) National Construction Center: CPWR — The Center for Construction Research and Training supports North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) and the CDC are some of the other organizations that have created resources for suicide prevention in the construction industry. The goal of these organizations is to continue to be a support system in improving workplace mental health and to prevent suicides within the construction industry altogether.

Additionally, employers can look into behavioral health screenings such as mental health first aid training which is proven to help individuals feel better prepared to manage mental health crisis situations. During the program, participants learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health challenges. Going through mental health first aid training can increase confidence in asking for help and decrease the stigma. Reach out to a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor to learn more.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts, the below webpages can be helpful resources:

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