Exploring mental health challenges and implications for construction safety

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Abstract

Purpose: Over 2.7 million workers are employed in the UK construction industry and with the fragmented nature of the construction sector; cases of poor mental health of workers are on the increase. This upsurge in the number of workers experiencing poor mental health could directly impact construction safety with significant financial adverse consequences on employers and the UK economy. Studies have identified lapses within the construction sector emphasising the lack of transparency regarding reporting of mental health and well-being of construction workers due to the inadequate engagement from employers and the lack of genuine leadership commitment to tackle mental health. Design/methodology/approach: This study adopted a non-probability purposive sampling strategy, using a self-selected sample. A self-administered questionnaire benchmarked against the mental health core and enhanced standards tools by the “Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers” served as the basis for the methodology. A total of 106 industry managers from highways, construction, maritime, utilities, home building, rail and haulage/fleet were involved in this study. Findings: The findings indicate that the industry is making good strides towards addressing mental health issues; poor mental health have significant financial burdens on businesses and the economy; some contractors have mental health initiatives and programmes in place; there is inconsistency of support available to employees; some contractors now integrate leadership training; the level of engagement vary based on the strategy and action plan adopted by organisations; different mechanisms are adopted for monitoring mental health issues, and there are cross-industry initiatives. Research limitations/implications: A limitation of this study is the number of participants which is not representative of the entire UK construction workforce. Therefore, the findings from this study as much as it presents some understanding of employee mental health and well-being cannot be overtly generalised across multiple industries, different geographic regions or contexts. Originality/value: Employers should have a clear representation of the mental health of their employees to help them understand what affects worker’s mental well-being and how they can support them. Disregarding the multifaceted causes of mental ill-health due to the perceived financial implications could be more devastating for the industry.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Early online date21 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2023

Keywords

  • Construction safety
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering

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