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Mental wellbeing and suicide prevention

The prevalence of stress and anxiety amongst construction workers is often reported to be higher than in other segments of the population.

Research commissioned by the Building Employee's Redundancy Trust (BERT) shows a significantly higher rate of suicide in the Queensland construction industry (Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention, 2006).

The findings of this report include:

  • Construction workers are six times more likely to commit suicide than to die from an industrial accident.
  • The suicide rate of young construction workers (15–24 years of age) is almost twice as high as that of all working-age males.
  • Up to one in twenty construction workers will contemplate suicide each year.

The following construction work related issues can place worker's mental wellbeing at higher risk:

  • hazardous nature of construction work
  • long and physically demanding hours of work
  • pressures associated with project deadlines
  • transient and insecure nature of employment.

Similarly, personal or lifestyle factors also contribute to a person's mental wellbeing. These can include factors like

  • relationship problems
  • alcohol or substance abuse
  • financial distress.

Many cases of suicide were found to have multiple stressful life events in the period leading up to their death.

MATES in Construction

MATES in Construction (MIC) is an initiative of BERT and other key players in the Queensland construction industry. It is based on best practice principles and expert advice relating to suicide prevention.

MIC was established to identify workers who display early warning signs of a suicidal attempt, connect them with appropriate support and contribute to a more resilient and healthier industry. It has been successful in gathering support from the broader construction industry that suicide is an issue that can be addressed on construction sites across Queensland.

More information

Both employers and workers benefit from strategies that promote and support mental wellbeing.

Employers should also consider their responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Duty holders have an obligation to minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, the exposure of workers to work-related hazards that contribute to or cause psychological illness or injury.

Well designed and well managed workplaces can play a beneficial role in promoting worker health and wellbeing.

To talk to someone about how you can support workers in your organisation to achieve a healthy lifestyle, including access to support tools and resources, contact us on 1300 362 128.