Construction firms in Gladstone are using friendship as a tool to help tackle the problem of suicide in the industry.
The construction industry is not only a male dominated industry, the culture is very macho and male orientated, not very conducive to opening up about one’s feelings or depression, this combined with the stress, physical difficulty, risks and hazards and demands associated with construction work leads to a problematically high suicide rate.
The Mates in Construction program is one that has been running since 2011 and has been encouraging workers to look out for their friends on site. This post from www.gladstoneobserver.com.au explains:
GLADSTONE’s construction companies are playing the friendship card to help raise suicide awareness in male-dominated workplaces.
Since 2011, suicide prevention program Mates in Construction has been running workshops in Gladstone to encourage workers to look out for their mates.
Construction companies Bechtel, McCosker Contracting, WorleyParsons and Laing O’Rourke are signed up to the program.
Mates in Construction operations manager John Brady said the program taught men how to monitor the well-being of their mates.
“The success has been unbelievable,” Mr Brady said.
“Not many men would come to a session about suicide prevention, but when safety is concerned everyone comes along.”
The Mates in Construction program has discovered that construction workers are 6 times more likely to die from suicide than from a workplace accident, yet we place little attention on this hazard. Not to mention that workers that are suicidal are not in the right state of mind to work in a hazardous industry such as construction, how can they be entrusted with dangerous, even life threatening tasks?
Young workers in the construction industry are particularly vulnerable because as research indicated workers between the ages of 15-24 are almost twice as more likely to be commit suicide than all other age groups of men.
This is probably because of the stress and pressure of life on a construction site which perhaps young workers are not mentally developed enough to deal with.
There are initiatives being implemented to tackle these high suicide rates among construction workers as the post on GladstoneObserver.com.au goes on to explain,
Mates in Construction has found construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from workplace accident.
“If you’re not in the right mindset, how can you operate heavy machinery?” Mr Brady said.
Beyond blue announced it would introduce free or heavily subsidised training sessions to businesses in the construction industry.
The National Workplace Program scousessions will introduce policies to promote good mental health.
Gladstone residents paid their respects at the World Suicide Prevention Day Ceremony outside Gladstone Regional Council on Tuesday.
Mayor Gail Sellers said the region had lost several people to suicide this year.
Rio Tinto Alcan Gladstone said workers had access to on-site counselling services.
Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said they had a number of support services available to staff.