Report reveals alarming rates of construction worker suicide in NZ

The release of a report into suicides of construction industry workers has highlighted the need for all parts of the industry to work together to support the mental health of workers.

Brett Murray, Chief Executive of Site Safe, says the report showed while there is no single cause, there are common factors in some cases the industry can work on, including work and financial stresses and physical injuries.

He says Site Safe is already developing a mental health and wellbeing strategy based on the findings of the report which studied coroner reports from 2007-2017.

“To lose 300 people to suicide in our industry over 10 years is devastating.” Brett Murray says.

“It’s an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for their workers and this includes protecting physical and mental wellbeing.

“There has been huge progress in workplace health and safety over the past twenty years, but we all need to play our part in shifting attitudes towards mental health.”

Most common workplace pressures

The workplace pressures mentioned in coroners’ reports included:

  • job insecurity or uncertainty

  • stress related to running a business

  • pressure to deliver under deadlines

  • juggling responsibilities

  • dealing with an injury or illness affecting the ability to work

One in eight (13%) of all cases listing workplace pressures included experiences of job insecurity.

Notably, people who were self-employed or business owners (11.3% of all cases) were twice as likely to
have been affected by work-related factors than employees.

“The findings in this report outline some of the pressures on people working in the construction industry.

“These pressures aren’t unique to the construction industry, but the solutions can be found by getting the industry set-up to address these challenges and improve the mental health of its people.”

Mr Murray says the report aims to help industry, government, and the public understand the risk factors and pressures that can contribute to suicide in the construction industry.

“Suicide prevention is something for all New Zealanders to work on, but the most effective suicide prevention initiatives are tailored to the environments and cultures of people at risk.

“In the case of the construction industry, pilots of programmes in New Zealand and Australia have found that initiatives targeted at people who work in the construction industry can prevent suicide and improve mental health and wellbeing.”

The full report is available for download:
www.sitesafe.org.nz/guides--resources/research/sitesaferesearch

For more information about suicide prevention, please visit www.mentalhealth.org.nz/suicideprevention