BBC News released a video about the alarming prevalence of mental illness among men in the construction industry in the United Kingdom. Long hours, lack of job security and macho atmosphere are blamed for the high risk of suicide – three times higher than the national average for men. Like many in the industry, Adrian Wild, Managing Director of HBXL Building Software is very concerned by the current statistics on stress, mental health and wellbeing.
“It is crucial that the construction industry creates a culture on site, whether it’s a loft extension or a whole development, where people feel safe enough to talk about their feelings and get support if they need it.
“That’s why we’ve introduced the new ‘Work Stress and Mental Health’ Toolbox Talk in the new Health & Safety Xpert 2019.”
So how do we know if someone is experiencing stress for instance?
Signs to look out for of stress in a colleague on site or in the office
- reduced productivity, appearing distracted
- appearing overwhelmed
- lacking in self-confidence
- isolation from work colleagues and friends
- increased conflict with co-workers
- increased lateness, absenteeism and presenteeism (showing up to work, but not being able to function properly)
- reduced problem-solving ability
(Taken from our newest Toolbox Talk which is included in the new Health & Safety Xpert 2019)
Stress isn’t the only form of Mental Ill Health, it includes anxiety, depression, phobic anxiety orders and obsessive compulsive orders.
It is also important to know that Mental Ill Heath is classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 which makes it unlawful for an employer to treat a disabled person less favourably without a justifiable reason.
Stress of course is normal, but too many stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol can be harmful when we don’t need them. It’s not healthy or practical to go into ‘fight or flight’ mode every five minutes.
Q. So what do you say to someone who is displaying any of the signs?
A. Start with ‘How’s it going?’
Q. What do you do if you’re experiencing stress?
A. Ask for help. Take care of yourself outside of work, including exercise and eating well.
There is a full list of recommendations and suggestions in the new ‘Work Stress and Mental Health’ Toolbox Talk in Health & Safety Xpert 2019. It’s a handy tool to start a conversation on site with everyone assembled. (There is more information on Toolbox Talks and what they are, further down the page).
New Health & Safety Xpert 2019
Health & Safety Xpert 2019 has over 70 Toolbox Talks, and alongside these, the software has all the documents to keep you in line with the latest regulations and CDM 2015 compliant: Risk and COSHH Assessments, Company Health & Safety Policy, Method Statements, Pre-Construction Info, Construction Phase Health & Safety Plans, Health & Safety File, Site Inspections and more, including 35+ Management documents! Take a look at our Health & Safety Xpert gallery to see a range of sample reports.
Health & Safety Xpert 2019 costs just £699+VAT and is very easy to use. In fact the software in itself is a known stress-buster! If you want to get your health and safety sorted on site, reduce worry and avoid HSE fines then the software will help save time and effort, all whilst reducing risks on site. Health & Safety Xpert 2019 provides all the documents needed for each stage of the HSE’s recommended approach to managing health and safety. And it can be achieved in minutes!
What is a Toolbox Talk?
Fundamentally, each ‘toolbox talk’ is a short presentation to the workforce on a single aspect of health and safety, and takes place before a specific task is going to be carried out. Each one is designed to heighten awareness.
And even if there isn’t anything out of the ordinary happening that day you should still use one or more of the Toolbox Talks on a daily basis to promote a culture of health and safety, to prompt a discussion between you all, run through emergency procedures, explore the risks and think about ways of dealing with them.
Although they don’t replace health and safety training, they’re a good reminder and effectively there to reinforce what your workforce should know already. 10-15 minutes well spent.
How do you use a Toolbox Talk?
- Simply print the document off (it’s probably worth have a read through beforehand).
- If it relates to a piece of equipment, then have it to hand
- Choose a quiet spot on site where there aren’t any distractions so that everyone can concentrate for those few minutes.
- Read it out to everyone.
- Use the prop to demonstrate your points either during or after the talk. For instance if the talk is on abrasive wheels, show the grinder and point to the relevant safety features
- Open it up for discussion, encourage questions – however basic they might be.
- Make a note of the date of the talk, the subject and who was in attendance. It’s good protocol and proof if needed for the HSE. Please note, Health & Safety Xpert provides a Toolbox Talks Register for recording who’s received what talk.
Make the Toolbox Talk part of the daily routine, and alongside the briefing, you could take the opportunity with everyone gathered round, to run through any housekeeping matters or issues with the job, be they material hold-ups, or changes to the plans.
To see where the Toolbox Talks sit within the process of managing health and safety, as per the HSE’s ‘Managing for Health & Safety’ (HSG65) document, take a look at our guide. This useful pdf file matches the documents with the four stages within HSG65, ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’. Anything you don’t understand, just talk to one of our team.
Some concerning statistics from the CITB about Mental Ill Health
Over 2 million people report suffering an illness they believe has been caused or made worse by their work. This can take the form of stress, anxiety, back pain, depression and increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Every year three in ten employees experience mental health problems.
By 2020 depression will rank second to heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide.