In the construction industry, a disturbing and unnerving trend has been developing over the past few decades. Construction and resource extraction have the highest rate of deaths by suicide compared to any other industry. This phenomenon is not limited to a single country. The statistics from three developed countries with strong construction and resource extraction industries (United States, United Kingdom and Australia), reflect the same pattern.
A major risk factor that has not been given much attention and scrutiny is the requirement for many workers to be away from their homes for long periods of time, based in remote locations and basecamps. This isolation contributes to loneliness and disconnectedness that increases the vulnerability to employees at risk due to underlying mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, or those with suicidal ideations or prior attempts. Basecamps or remote work locations remove workers from the support networks of family, friends, and even medical and psychological caregivers.
Employers placing employees in remote work locations should be mindful that simply wanting to work in a remote location does not necessarily equate to being able to cope well in such an environment—unless appropriate supports are provided. Companies need to become proactive to lead employees to become true teams to help reduce the risk of suicide among their workers.
Reprinted courtesy of Sandra Moran, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.