Mental health is becoming much more prominent in conversation across numerous sectors, with great headway being made. However, in the construction industry, there is still significant work to be done to improve the situation for those working within it, as well as reducing the stigma surrounding discussing mental health.
As statistics show, male site workers in construction are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male. Additionally, between 2011 and 2015, of the 13,232 in-work suicides that were recorded, those that occurred within the skilled construction and building trades made up 13.2% – despite construction accounting for just over 7% of the UK workforce.
At Phelan, we have been working to make proactive changes over the past year and have recently launched our official “Phelan Fine” initiative. As part of this, we aim to help all staff located in our head office and on our sites nationwide to be happier and healthier at work. We hope to set a new standard for staff wellbeing within the construction industry and highlight the ways in which progress can be made.
What is the “Phelan Fine” initiative?
We recognise that how we feel can be broken down into two key areas: physical and mental health. Although people are a lot more willing to discuss their physical health, often their mental health remains more private. However, often these go hand-in-hand – e.g. chronic pain contributing to depression. We wanted to tackle both aspects of our staff’s wellbeing and, as such, are utilising the below strategies:
Mental health is often perceived as a difficult and taboo subject, especially among men aged 30 to 50 – a prominent demographic within the construction industry.
There are more deaths in construction from suicide than from falls. Although attitudes will not change overnight, we hope that we can grow a company culture that acknowledges the value of mental health, openly encourages discussion and makes help readily available without fear of judgement or recrimination.
Phelan has put in place the following measures so far, with more planned:
- We have seven trained mental health first aiders, who are stationed within various parts of the business and can travel to other sites as required
- We have distributed posters and banners that note our sites are a ‘Mental Health Matters Construction Site’ with helpline information
- We promote mental health apps directly to our workers, and provide them with valuable information through e-shots and posters to help identify signs of mental illness within either themselves of their colleagues
- We run mental health events, including participating in Mental Health Awareness Week (13th-19th May) with “Coffee Mornings” held across the business. The coffee mornings not only give staff the opportunity to talk about mental health with their colleagues, but we also use them as an opportunity to raise money for the charity “Mates in Mind”.
- We look for ways to improve staff wellbeing where possible; for example, providing a free lunch for staff on a Wednesday in our head office and ensuring breakfast supplies are available at the start of each day.
To help our team identify and treat the many work-related illnesses and ailments associated with our industry, Phelan has offered employees complementary resources and support in the form of:
- Annual independent health checks: ELAS occupational health buses annually visit our sites on rotation, offering a broad range of health assessment checks with a trained medical practitioner. These include tests for:
- Joint, bone and muscle disorders
- Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
- Hearing issues
- General health concerns
- Lung conditions
- Skin problems
- Visual impairments
- Self-assessment leaflets on each site: These leaflets, produced in-house by Phelan, provide instructions and information on carrying out your own health checks, which can be done easily on-site. Our SHE department has provided corresponding kits with OXI-monitors, urinalysis tests and BMI charts, all available from the site office with guidance from site managers available if needed.
See some of our “Phelan Fine” posters and banners below.