The construction industry is four times more likely than any other industry to lose an employee to suicide. Take time to educate employees about the contributing factors, signs, and prevention during National Suicide Prevention Week, September 6-12.
The suicide rate in construction is 45.3/100,000 compared to the national average for other industries of 14.2/100,000. Based on these numbers, it is five times more likely that an employer will lose an employee to suicide than to what OSHA considers the fatal four: falls, electrocution, struck by, caught in/between.
For men between the ages of 25 and 54, suicide is the second biggest cause of death. Men in the
construction industry face the additional hardship from physical activity paired with a ‘tough guy’
culture that can make it more difficult to reach out and seek help.
Stress is one of the main contributors to the decline in mental health, and it can manifest in four ways: physical, emotional, intellectual, and personal well-being. Physical symptoms can present itself as rapid weight gain or weight loss, difficulty sleeping or fatigue. Emotional stress symptoms can come from feeling incompetent and cause irritability. Intellectual symptoms are often shown through procrastination or difficulty concentrating, and personal well-being stressors can mean isolation from friends and family or a loss of sense of humor.
These types of stress can exacerbate mental health issues and lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. Often, individuals choose to self-medicate and abuse both drugs and alcohol instead of seeking professional help, due in part to the stigma associated with mental health.
Stress factors common in the construction industry that can contribute to a decline in mental health:
In the workplace, it is important to know what resources are available to support employees’
psychological health, and where there are gaps in the system. Learn to recognize the signs of an at-risk employee and create a supportive environment where individuals aren’t afraid of being reprimanded.
Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP)
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
This Safety Flash was contributed by Dax Biederman, CHST, Trivent Safety Consulting in cooperation with SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies, and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best practices may not work for all situations. Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When trucks bring steel back from a jobsite, it most often just gets thrown into a laydown area,
or bone yard, with cranes, lifts and welding machines. This can cause a lot of potential hazards,
as improper material storage can cause leg, ankle and/or hand crushes, also known as pinch
All laydown areas are dangerous, not just those on jobsites. They create trip hazards that can
do more damage than just a crushing injury, such as broken bones, caused by a fall.
One of the most important things to have when working in a laydown area is to have a spotter.
A spotter should always make himself/herself seen by the forklift operator, know how to
handle the forks on the lift, and always be on the lookout for damaged dunnage.
When working in a bone yard, remember to watch where you put your hands. The laydown
area can be full of spiders and snakes in addition to the sharp edges. Never go into the bone
yard unprotected. Old cables or chokers can cut you, that’s one of the main reasons they’re in
the bone yard.
There can be many hidden traps, so you must be on the lookout. That means to look under,
around, and beside you, even if you’re just getting one piece out. Always fix the pile when
you’re done. Don’t leave a trap for the next person.
Middle Georgia State University- Environmental Health and Safety manual for pinch points
This Safety Flash was contributed by Dave Schulz of Schulz Iron Works, Inc., in cooperation with
SEAA’s Safety Committee. It is designed to keep members informed about ongoing safety
issues and to provide suggestions for reducing risk. Best practices are gathered from a
variety of sources. They may be more or less stringent than individual corporate policies,
and are not intended to be an official recommendation from SEAA. Always get approval
and direction from your company officers on any new practice or procedure as these best
practices may not work for all situations.
Everyone benefits when a worker avoids injury. Submit your ideas for Safety Flash
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in Construction: Liability, Recordability, and Financial Implications
Toolbox Talks are an important part of safety and health programs. They allow employers to
proactively address hazards specific to the jobsite or project, creating awareness of certain risks and how workers should handle them. Perhaps just as important, Toolbox Talks can be used to build trust and boost communication when the tone is one of a safe space for employees to voice any safety concern or suggest ideas they have for improving safety.
Safety is a core value for many construction companies, with many subscribing to the mantra that all workers will return home at the end of the day in the same condition as they left home. But as experienced workers leave the industry, maintaining this goal with workers with less experience creates a new challenge.
In July 2019, 3M issued stop use and product recall notices on two products frequently used by ironworkers in steel erection applications.
The first is 3M™ PROTECTA® Cobra Mobile/Manual Rope Grab AC202D, which is incorrectly stamped for use with 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter rope on the exterior body of the unit. This Cobra Rope Grab is certified for use ONLY with 5/8 inch diameter polyester or polypropylene rope. All marketing information and the Instructions for Use (IFU) for this rope grab correctly identify the size of rope to be used as 5/8 inch polyester/polypropylene rope.
In the event of a fall from height, a Cobra Rope Grab used with 1/2 inch diameter rope may not arrest the fall and could result in serious injury or death to the worker.