Anyone in construction knows this sobering fact all too well: The U.S. construction industry has more worker fatalities than any other industry. It’s a statistic that many construction companies and organizations are working tirelessly to change. That is especially evident as we recognize Safety Week, May 1-5, an industry-wide effort to promote construction worker safety best practices and raise awareness of the industry’s continuing commitment to eliminate worker injury.
Appropriately, many safety efforts are focused on potential job-site hazards. But two programs are taking worker safety beyond the usual on-the-job dangers and addressing other key issues threatening today’s construction workers.
One-third of serious safety incidents on job sites are drug or alcohol related–according to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)–which is why the organization is putting the spotlight directly on this life-threatening issue. In fact, according to the ABC 2017 Safety Performance Report, member construction firms with a substance abuse program in place reduce their incident rates by 36 percent compared to the industry average.
Want to get serious about creating a drug- and alcohol-free workplace? Take the pledge at drugfreeconstruction.org. The website is the home of a coalition of major construction associations and partner construction companies that are aiming to eliminate injuries and fatalities that occur because of substance abuse.
It’s not a topic many people want to talk about. But suicide particularly hits home for the families and friends of construction workers. Across all industries, construction has the highest total number of suicides and the second-highest suicide rate, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2015, the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) decided it was time to shatter the mental health stigma in construction and openly discuss the industry’s suicide issue. Since then, the organization has established the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. The alliance provides a variety of assistance, including regional suicide prevention summits to connect construction companies with local mental health experts and provide resources to build suicide prevention into company wellness programs.
These programs and many others are all part of an uncompromising, ongoing effort to improve the well-being of construction workers. It’s a responsibility those in the industry don’t take lightly. That’s never more evident than during Safety Week. As one contractor said on Twitter: “We might work for different companies, but this week we’re united by one goal: safety.”