With September being Suicide Prevention Month, construction organizations and government agencies are stressing the importance of strengthening mental and physical health among workers.
In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the construction industry has one of the highest rates of death by suicide among workers — 5,242 in 2018, which was five times higher than U.S. construction worker fatalities on jobsites.
On Sept. 7, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) signed an alliance agreement to promote workplace mental health and suicide prevention awareness.
During the two-year agreement, OSHA and AFSP will develop information and products on workplace mental health and suicide prevention awareness in multiple languages that reflect diversity in the workforce and encourage workers’ sense of belonging. Participants will share best practices and effective approaches for promoting workplace suicide prevention awareness, such as AFSP’s “Talk Saves Lives” programming.
“Suicide is a leading cause of death among working age adults in the United States. It deeply impacts workers, families, and communities,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “OSHA is proud to join with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to eliminate barriers to getting help and promote the mental wellbeing of all workers.”
AFSP is a voluntary health organization giving those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy.
The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) also partners with AFSP. Through its partnership, ABC provides construction workers and employers with resources, including:
- Free suicide prevention training
- The Suicide Prevention Lifeline call center
- The Crisis Text Line
- Toolbox talks
- Speakers who can provide in-person, recorded and online education on suicide awareness, prevention and postvention
Under a new federal program, help-seekers can simply call 988 to connect to mental health caregivers.
“This is a national tragedy, and we must end these unprecedented, unacceptable and devastating deaths among our colleagues,” said Greg Sizemore, ABC vice president of health, safety, environment and workforce development. “Construction workers work with tools every day, and we must equip these 7.7 million workers with the tools they need to prioritize mental health and protect their emotional wellbeing. They will use them.”
Additionally, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is a member of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, a group of organizations committed to promoting the safety and well-being of construction workers. It offers resources on its website like articles, posters and information on how to plan education sessions in your business.
For more information, visit OSHA’s preventing suicide resource page.