Surge in Construction Worker Suicide Rates Leads to U.S. Department of Labor, Industry Leaders and Stakeholders to Take Action

Surge in Construction Worker Suicide Rates Leads to U.S. Department of Labor, Industry Leaders and Stakeholders to Take Action

Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down takes place September 6-10.

When you think of hazards, accidents and deaths in the construction industry, your mind probably goes to the usual culprits: falling, struck-by or crushed equipment, electrocutions and more. A recent study finds there is something quite deeper than these seemingly obvious, potential killers. This study found that another cause of death is people taking their own lives at an alarming rate. In 2020, the CDC found that men working in construction have one of the highest suicide rates compared to other industries. Their suicide rate is about four times higher than the general population.

According to a press release, the CDC continues its research to understand why this is happening. OSHA formed a task force of industry partners, unions and educators to raise awareness of the types of stress that can push construction workers into depression resulting in suicide. The task force also encourages employers to share and discuss available resources with their employees. The press release says it is calling on the industry to take part in a weeklong Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down, taking place September 6-10. The purpose of the Stand-Down is to raise awareness about the specific, unique challenges construction workers face. It will occur during National Suicide Prevention Month in September.

“Work-related stress can have severe impacts on mental health and without proper support may lead to substance abuse and even suicide,” stated Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “Workers in construction face many work-related stressors that may increase their risk factors for suicide, such as the uncertainty of seasonal work, demanding schedules and workplace injuries that are sometimes treated with opioids.”

Beginning as a regional initiative, The Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down started in OSHA’s Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri offices with these task force members: Builders Association, Associated General Contractors of Missouri, University of Kansas, University of Iowa, Washington University, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, local unions and several employers.

A video on suicide prevention was recently shared with task force members by Assistant Secretary Frederick. The suicide prevention page also includes links to resources and other information. Review the OSHA mental health crisis resources here.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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