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Mental Health: The Construction Industry’s Unspoken Threat

03/02/2020 Kerri Richardson

Addressing the Seriousness of Mental Health Across the Industry

The construction industry is notoriously taxing on its workers. From falling debris to malfunctioning power tools, a countless number of accidents can end up causing a site thousands of dollars, time, and even threaten a worker’s life. Needless to say, protecting your employees is of the utmost importance. In protecting your employees, you are ensuring your projects stay on schedule and within budget. One of the most overlooked issues in the construction industry is mental health. In an industry where there is so little margin for error and so many stakeholders at risk, workers who are struggling with mental health are a massive liability.

Understanding the Danger of Mental Illness in the Industry

Construction sites are dangerous places under the best of conditions. These conditions can quickly become even more hazardous when troubled or distracted workers are involved. The ability to identify depression and other forms of mental distress is critical. The most common symptoms of depression are changes in sleep patterns, fluctuating (usually low) energy levels, and lack of concentration. These symptoms yield a clouded mind and lack of focus and can even lead to thoughts of self-harm. There are few things more dangerous on a construction site than a worker suffering from any of these issues. The unfortunate reality is that more construction workers die every year by suicide than by workplace accidents.

Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP)

In 1981, the Construction Financial Management Association, or CFMA, was founded in an effort to bring together financial partners in the construction industry. As of 2020, the CFMA serves more than 9,000 members in nearly 100 chapters across the country. In 2016, CFMA took the first steps in addressing the industry’s most prevalent issue, the mental health and suicide rate that was present in the construction industry.

In order to battle this growing pandemic, the CFMA formed the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP). CIASP works directly with construction companies to build efficient training systems so that managers and construction workers can easily recognize the early warning signs of depression and suicide risk. These programs have the potential to drastically reduce depression rates and suicidal tendencies in throughout the industry. CIASP’s work thus far, has translated to more focused and productive workers, a happier workforce, and safer construction sites, which ultimately saves the industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

As a business owner or leader, addressing mental health issues within your company must be prioritized. The first step is education – understanding the warning signs and having the insight needed to properly address them. Protect your construction sites, your employees, and your company by learning more about how you can mitigate mental health issues in your workforce.

For any questions related to the breadth of services VonLehman offers to the Construction Industry, please contact our Construction & Real Estate Service Group leader, Kerri Richardson, via email at krichardson@vlcpa.com or by phone at 800.887.0437.

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