This is a two-part article. This article explores the scope and magnitude of the mental/behavioral health problem in construction, while the second part will focus on strategies and solutions to address these topics in your companies. Look for part two soon on CFMA’s Content Hub.
The Invisible Crisis in Construction refers to the challenges posed by mental health, substance misuse and overdose, and suicide risk that leaves many workers and their families suffering in silence. While this is a real threat to the construction workforce and our families, the construction industry faced these challenges before COVID-19. However, the pandemic has exacerbated these risks.
Terry Moore is the CFO for CFMA heavy/highway member Miller Brothers Const., Inc. in Archbold, OH, and worries about the effects of the pandemic on the workforce. “Finding qualified equipment operators is quickly becoming the most scarce resource we have.” Moore is also concerned that the “current economic and social environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional stress on those individuals, resulting in them experiencing increased mental health issues.”
Moore believes that “this situation has a direct impact on their performance, but more importantly their safety. For the success of our company and the industry in general, it is imperative we recognize this situation and do all that we can in assisting our employees in dealing with these issues.”
Specific Examples of the Invisible Crisis in Construction
The rising stress, family pressures, and financial strains are affecting the overall quality of life and wellbeing of workers and families. These rising risks affect the construction workplace and threaten worker productivity, safety, and quality. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workplace fatalities in construction rose 6.3% in 2019 (the last year data is available) to 1,066 fatalities, the highest total since 2007.