15th November 2019

Construction workers and mental health

Nine out of ten construction bosses are suffering mental health problems caused by late payment.

A survey run by engineering services trade bodies ECA and BESA found a host of problems including stress, depression and suicidal thoughts.

ECA Director of CSR Paul Reeve said: “It’s absolutely clear from these findings that poor payment is a serious cause of mental health issues across the industry and that the problem, far from being isolated to certain individuals, is commonplace among top management.

“These problems quickly knock on to employees and families alike.

“Findings such as these mean that clients and other buyers need to greatly improve their approach to supply chain payment and it’s a sad reflection on the industry that it will probably take legislation to achieve it.”      

The survey.

The survey found that business owners have an array of significant mental health problems due to the pressures of late or unfair payment, including:

  • Stress (80 per cent)
  • Depression (36 per cent)
  • Extreme anger (38 per cent)
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks (40 per cent)
  • Insomnia (36 per cent)
  • Suicidal feelings (10 per cent)

BESA CEO David Frise said: “Systemic payment abuse causes broken lives and broken buildings and must be stamped out.

“Every single working day, two construction workers take their own lives”

Stress, depression or anxiety accounts for a fifth of all work-related illness and the industry loses around 400,000 working days each year because of them.

Onsite and older workers report higher levels of stress than their peers, often linked to the greater demands being placed on them with lower levels of control. Many construction workers are Casual or self-employed and say that the lack of job security can contribute to mental health problems. Without paid sick leave, holidays or access to company health programmes, it’s also harder for them to get support and make a recovery.

On top of that, a physical injury at work can have serious mental health consequences. Some 2,000 accidents in construction each year leave workers unable to return to work, and many more experience minor injuries that make work difficult, increasing stress, anxiety and the likelihood of depression.

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