Public health experts are becoming increasingly concerned at the high level of suicides among workers in the construction industry, a representative of the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently told home builders.
At the 2020 International Builders’ Show, Scott Earnest, acting director of NIOSH Office of Construction Safety and Health, spoke to the NAHB Construction Safety and Health Committee about the nationwide trend of rising suicide rates and rising rates among construction workers.
A 2015 study showed that the profession with the highest rate of suicides was Construction and Extraction at 52.1 suicides per 100,000 people. Installation, Maintenance, and Repair was in third place at 39.7 per 100,000.
Earnest said that the cause of suicide is multifactorial and identifying the specific role that occupational factors might play in suicide risk is complicated. But he noted that because many people spend a significant portion of their waking hours at work, the jobsite should have more resources for suicide prevention and mental health services.
NAHB has joined the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) in an effort to raise awareness of the prevalence of suicide in the construction industry. Use the Needs Analysis & Integration Checklist to evaluate your company’s preparedness for addressing mental health and suicide in the workplace, and be sure to review the 10 questions and 10 action steps companies can use to save lives.
The CIASP seeks to address suicide prevention as a health and safety priority by creating safe cultures, providing training to identify and help those at risk, raising awareness about the suicide crisis in construction, normalizing conversations around suicide and mental health, and ultimately decreasing the risks associated with suicide in construction.
For now, Earnest noted, more research needs to be conducted to see if there is a link between the work done on construction sites and rising prevalence of suicide.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, find a local crisis hotline and other valuable resources at suicidepreventionlifeline.org, funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
NAHB is focused on the health and safety of workers in the home building industry and dedicates considerable resources to providing timely and accurate guidance. For more information about jobsite safety, visit nahb.org.