There are a lot of hazards when working construction. There are such risks as falling off structures, being struck by falling debris and injuries involving heavy equipment. These all involve the risk of severe physical injury or even death, but what gets swept aside is the mental health challenges that many who work construction face.
According to mental health experts, construction workers are also vulnerable to these issues. Common examples include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) endured after an injury
- Stress of working a dangerous job where they and coworkers’ lives are at risk
- Inconsistent or seasonal work schedules lead to time not working and uncertainty as a provider and a professional
- Shifts often long and physically demanding
- Higher than average drug and alcohol use
A male-dominated profession
An estimated 89% of 10.7 million workers in 2020 are men, which impacts how mental health is not addressed. Mental health is still often stigmatized among men, meaning those suffering are less likely to seek help. Nevertheless, 83% of construction workers reported that they had experienced moderate to severe mental health issues. This, in turn, likely contributes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 study that construction companies have one of the highest rates of suicide.
What can employers do?
They can be proactive in identifying and supporting construction workers. It can involve:
- Encourage workers to come forward if they have a problem
- Take those problems seriously and provide comprehensive professional resources for dealing with the problem
Workers’ comp claims not just for physical injury
It may be difficult for a business owner or manager to understand or recognize unhealthy behavior. Yet, enabling workers to get the resources they need is essential for changing the harmful parts of the industry’s culture.
Workers can file for workers’ compensation or other benefits if they face mental health challenges caused by their job, regardless of whether it started with an injury or no injury. As with a physical illness, they will need to get the necessary treatment and follow protocols outlined by the appropriate health care professionals.