Skanska rolls out simple tool to flag mental health resources

Diving Brief:

  • Skanska UK has set up a simple solution that she says will help protect one of her most important assets: her workers. Specifically, the new practice is to help employees deal with their mental health issues.
  • Workers can speak with specially trained team members who have completed a mental health training course. These trained employees wear a green circular sticker that reads “Mental Health First Aid” on their hard hats, letting people on the job site know that they are available to talk or address a mental wellness issue.
  • The initiative was recently rolled out as part of an approximately $346 million motorway improvement project in the UK. Eight skilled workers have displayed their helmet stickers since January 17, instantly flagging them to the 100 workers on site as a resource. Skanska UK said 55% of its employees have been trained on the Mental Health Aware course or as a first aider.

Overview of the dive:

Skanska has also spearheaded mental health efforts in the United States. For example, last year the Sweden-based entrepreneur partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide to host virtual and in-person trainings, Paul Haining, senior vice president and head of EHS shared services at Skanska USA , told Construction Dive.

“One of the things we’ve built into all of our job sites and offices is a daily ‘stretch and flex’ huddle to start the day,” Haining said. “It gives us a chance [to] combine exercises to loosen up physically with daily checks on how people are doing.”

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the suicide rate among construction workers in the United States is more than three times the national average, with 49.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 workers. Moreover, for every person who commits suicide, there are 25 other suicide attempts.

The yards are also largely populated by men, who are twice as likely to die by suicide as women.

In addition to being at high risk for suicide, construction workers can face general health and morale issues, which can impact other aspects of the job site. Entrepreneurs’ mental health initiatives aim to address issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction and anger.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health issue for entrepreneurs, causing the The CDC will update a checklist for construction employers to consider the mental health and well-being of their workers. The organization highlighted how the pandemic could affect work, making it essential for leaders to communicate expectations, anticipate changes in behavior and ensure a system is in place to identify issues and provide A support.

Correction: This story has been updated to correctly display Paul Haining’s title.

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