- To draw attention to the need for mental health support for construction workers, the Associated General Contractors of California held a Mental Health Awareness Stand Down on May 19. Joining AGC was Pleasanton, California-based infrastructure contractor Teichert Inc., Operating Engineers Local 3 and Elk River, Minnesota-based safety consulting firm Loyalty Point Leadership.
- The event took place at the San Benito Route 156 Improvement Project in San Juan Bautista, California. Teichert paused construction for an hour while speakers provided advice on how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and where to look for help.
- “Mental health is something that can affect everyone, and it is important to keep a happy, healthy mind and body,” said Neils Ash, Operating Engineers Local Union 3 district representative for Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties. Each of the organizations highlighted to members their free resources that offer confidential assistance.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the organizers of the California event are part of a growing chorus of groups that publicly advocate for ways to improve culture and better protect the physical and mental health of construction workers.
Construction has the second highest rate of suicide among all U.S. industries at 45.3 per 100,000 workers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During the first week of May, which was also Construction Safety Week, Suffolk Construction partnered with military veteran mental health nonprofit Home Base to call on OSHA to develop more suicide awareness training.
John Fish, chair and CEO of Boston-based general contractor Suffolk, asserted that including more mental health awareness training in OSHA 10 or OSHA 30s could make a profound difference.
Suffolk worked with Home Base because a critical number of veterans — who face a variety of “invisible illnesses” when they exit service — join construction during their civilian careers.
Patrick Nelson, CEO of Loyalty Point Leadership, spoke about his personal experience as a U.S. Army veteran during the California stand down.
“I’ve found that the mental health challenges that are impacting the construction industry are not all that different from the challenges that I’ve faced as [a] veteran,” said Nelson. “It’s an honor for me to be able to share the adversity that I’ve faced and my own personal journey to help inspire others and influence the future.”