Pressure builds in construction as demand outweighs supply

Survey results published by Construction News show that the pressure to work to tight deadlines is the number one reason why workers say they are struggling at work. 

The anonymous survey captures a picture of the mental health of UK construction workers and what has changed in recent years. It showed that external pressures of the past three years – Brexit, the pandemic alongside shortages of workers and materials – has unsettled workers. 

The results imply that industry efforts are starting to have a positive effect in some areas, but work is still to be done in others to help people stay well and working.  

More than half of workers taking part in the survey said that they did not receive the appropriate level of support with their mental health from their managers. And 59 per cent did not tell their employer that the reason they needed time off was for mental health, a slight improvement compared to 2019. 

Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, the law requires all employers to prevent work related stress to promote, support and sustain good mental health in the workplace.  

HSE’s Working Minds campaign is working with Mates in Mind and others to raise awareness of signs and causes of stress so that employers can recognise the reasons why someone may need time off to respond and support appropriately.  

Much of the industry is made up of self-employed or smaller contractors that have fewer resources than top tier organisations. The Working Minds campaign is aimed specifically at supporting small businesses by providing employers and workers with easy to implement advice, including simple steps based on risk assessment to Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine.  

We need to make looking after our mental health just as routine as managing safety at work. You can get started today with five simple steps:  

  1. reach out and have the conversations,  
  2. recognise the signs of stress, such as noise levels 
  3. respond to any risks identified – for example provide information, training or hearing protection   
  4. reflect on what’s happened – have things improved?  
  5. make it routine to check back in on how things are going. 

For practical advice to get conversations started and what to cover, see HSE’s Talking Toolkit for construction. You might also like to download a risk assessment template. 

Take the quiz to check your knowledge on legal requirements for employers around stress. 

If you’d like to talk to anyone about your mental health or would like to signpost someone in your team to a confidential, free service contact the Construction Industry Helpline on 0345 605 1956. Or if you’re uncomfortable talking, Text HARDHAT to 85258 (UK). Both services are managed and funded by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity.


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