By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East
Last year, more than 60,000 workers across the infrastructure sector downed tools on sites and in offices to take part in Stop. Make a Change. – an initiative set up to help build a safer industry.
This year Stop. Make a Change. has expanded to cover the whole of the industry. A dedicated two weeks will run from 16-27 April, focussing mostly on mental health and plant safety. The initiative has been developed by an industry working group that includes representatives from some of the biggest companies in the industry, such as; Balfour Beatty, Highways England, Morgan Sindall and Kier
In the past, the industry has failed to address health with the same commitment as it has to safety. One in four people suffer from mental health issues each year, with more than 400,000 days being lost to work related stress, anxiety and depression in the industry alone. A worker in the industry is more likely to die of suicide than they are from a fall from height – such a scary statistic when you consider how dangerous our industry can be! The Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that the risk of suicide among low-skilled labourers and workers in the industry, is 3.7 times higher than the male national average. Given how at-risk industry workers are, an initiative like this couldn’t have come at a better time, we all need to be doing more to raise awareness and ensuring workers get the support they need.
It’s comforting to know that more companies are now offering mental health first aid and making a real effort to reduce mental health issues in the industry, Companies taking part in Stop. Make a Change. are asked to make more commitments by signing up to cross-industry initiatives or having their own programmes inhouse.
The industry relies heavily on the use of mobile plant to support delivery on site, which when used by trained and experienced operators, is safe. But there are still too many occasions of uncontrolled movements of plant leading to tragic accidents on site. Of the 217-people killed in our industry over the last five years around 10 % were hit by moving vehicles, so there’s still plenty of work to be done!
Organisations that commit to the initiative are asked to commit to the two focussed areas – mental health and plant safety. It is up to each organisation to decide what commitments it will make but they must improve performance in the business and support better outcomes for employees. It’s not that much of an ask when we’re literally talking about a matter of life or death!
Signing up to Stop. Make a Change. is completely free. All development costs have been met by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association with support from the Construction Industry Training Board through its Structured Fund – a truly worthy use of the fund if you ask me.
To find out more about how to get involved in Stop. Make a Change. contact firstname.lastname@example.org