Worker safety has always been top-of-mind in the construction industry. In a high-risk setting like a worksite, plenty can go wrong when a worker is not focused or mentally prepared to perform their job at a safe level. Creating an environment that supports workers’ mental health could be the difference between a deadly accident and a high-performing job site.
Mental health challenges are pervasive in the construction industry. There were 5,242 incidents of suicide among construction workers in 2018, equating to a rate of 45.3 per 100,000 compared to an average male suicide rate of 27.4 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is by far the highest of any other occupation.
At best, approaches to mental health across the industry are a “check the box” scenario, while failing to create a worksite culture of care and concern that is necessary to ensure workers’ mental health needs are fully supported. In today’s workplace, it is no longer acceptable to ignore the role behavioral health plays in supporting a safe work culture.
Leading the Way for Better Behavioral Health
Pivot Onsite Innovations (OSI) is changing how construction employers approach mental health on the job site. Our programs focus on creating an open dialog on the subject and taking a holistic look at mental health, addressing not only how it affects a worker’s mind but their physical wellbeing as well.
Mental and Physical Preparedness
Like professional athletes, construction workers require a high level of skill, focus, strength, and flexibility. Tasks completed on a construction site require as much if not more physical demand than those competing in professional sports do. OSI’s onsite medical teams look at each phase of a construction project and create specific tasks that help workers physically and mentally prepare, including tailored toolbox talks, stretches, and exercises.
To increase proactive treatment, OSI clinicians complete non-descriptive assessments and interventions through wellbeing programs and our Pivot hydration cart. It is a way to casually check in with workers and address pain, stress, and needs, opening a door to dialog including offering advice and health coaching. This allows OSI’s medical teams to build relationships with workers while encouraging them to treat pain as it comes rather than waiting for a serious injury to strike.
Mental Health Ambassadors
On a construction site, workers that may be struggling with their mental health can not only put themselves in harm’s way but those around them, too, when mental health affects their ability to focus and perform. Knowing the severity of mental health issues on construction sites, OSI clinicians also serve as Mental Health Ambassadors helping to create a workplace environment of wellness and safety.
OSI clinicians partake in additional, specific training that enables them to handle crisis situations and complete behavioral interventions on worksites. All OSI clinicians are trained in crisis management, behavior-based safety skills, and emotional intelligence, and come to the construction site equipped with the ability to recognize signs and symptoms of depression in workers.
Pivot Ahead Behavioral Health programs aim to reduce the stigma around mental health that is pervasive within the blue-collar workforce. OSI clinicians and Mental Health Ambassadors build a pro-mental health culture through conversations and programs that help workers feel more comfortable talking about their mental health challenges and provide resources for them to discretely seek the help they need on their own terms.
Increasing Awareness with Mental Health Seminars
Recognizing the deep-rooted mental health stigma in the construction industry, OSI set out to develop additional programming to help break the stigma by bringing experts onsite to discuss mental health and share personal stories that would resonate with workers.
In January 2022, OSI hosted its first Mental Health Seminar for a real estate company that is a leading developer and operator active across the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. With more than 1,200 employees and 144 property and project offices, the firm came to OSI looking for a way to engage all of its workers in mental health discussions and awareness.
Partnering with the firm’s virtual and environmental wellness providers, OSI coordinated the Mental Health Seminar over two days with three one-hour sessions attended by 600+ workers. OSI tapped Frank King, a suicide prevention speaker and trainer, to lead the event.
During the sessions, King discussed mental health challenges the construction industry is facing, risk factors for suicide and signs of depression, and the specific dangers on construction sites when workers are not mentally well. King also talked about his personal experiences with depression and how the loss of family members to suicide affected him. With his background as a comedian and a speaker, the group was engaged and King was able to connect with workers on a deeply personal level.
Establishing Behavioral Health as a Safety Priority
Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to worker safety on construction sites. With the suicide rate of men working in construction being four times higher than the general population, construction employers must address their employees’ whole health and wellbeing.
Pivot Onsite Innovations has paved the way for the industry with innovative, customizable behavioral health programs that create a culture of care and concern making workers feel safe and empowered to care for their own health and wellbeing. On top of OSI’s mental health programs, additional wellness programs including promotional, interactive, and health management programs drive population wellbeing – and provide another entrance point for breaking the mental health stigma on construction sites and engaging workers in their emotional health and wellness in a comfortable and effective way.