The construction industry has a reputation for being a competitive workplace full of tough, strong men. In this kind of environment mental health issues are rarely discussed or dealt with openly. Studies show that workers who suffer from mental health disorders or psychological distress are more at risk for a workplace accident. Physical symptoms of mental illness include loss of appetite, lower quality of sleep or insomnia, and a decreased ability to focus. On a construction site, this endangers not only the worker suffering from mental illness, but the workers around them and can lead to serious and devastating injuries.
Mental Health Issues in the Construction Industry
What are the factors in the construction industry that lead to mental health issues? It starts with the fact that construction is a male dominated industry and men are less comfortable talking about their mental health, with “strong and silent” is the prevailing archetype for “manly” men. Add to that the stresses of work being unsteady in that it is often seasonal, the threat of layoffs during economic downturns, long hours, and weeks on site away from family, and the result can be loneliness and isolation, depression, anxiety, or chronic stress.
The link between mental health and accidents is somewhat of a vicious circle. The illness and injury rate in construction is the highest of any industry. Construction workers who are injured in a workplace accident may suffer psychological trauma and chronic pain as a result. Chronic pain conditions can lead to substance abuse, which in turn increases the risk of a workplace accident. Construction workers who distracted by pain or contending with mental health issues may also become careless or forgetful about safety protocols and use of personal protective equipment, leading to more accidents.
Common Accidents and Injuries in Construction
Construction requires the use of power tools, heavy machinery, motorized vehicles, scaffolding, and electrical equipment to name just a few of the safety hazards. Common accidents that happen in construction work include:
- Falls: falls from scaffolding, ladders, or roofs can cause serious head injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries or death
- Struck by object: Examples of this type of accident are materials falling from upper levels of construction, a crane or forklift losing its load, or debris from power tools striking a worker. Head and eye injuries, lacerations, contusions, and broken bones are all common injuries from struck-by accidents.
- Caught in/between: Workers can get caught in or between moving vehicles or equipment and suffer crushing injuries, amputations, or internal organ damage
- Electrocution: Open wiring and working near power lines are safety hazards that can cause severe burns and fatalities
The above accident types are known as “the fatal four” kinds of accidents that kill construction workers on site. However, more construction workers die by suicide than the combined rates of all “fatal four” deaths.
Preventing Accidents Related to Mental Health
Employers need to take the lead in creating a work environment in which workers feel it is safe to talk about the mental health issues they may be facing. A healthy work environment involves caring for workers as well as profit or the company’s bottom line. Employers should provide training and education about mental health issues as well as counseling services and resources for workers to get help instead of suffering in silence.
Delaware Construction Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Get Benefits for Injured Construction Workers
For questions about benefits for construction injuries or help filing a claim, contact the experienced Delaware construction injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. We will fight to get you the maximum benefits available to you. Call (302) 427-9500 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation about your case. With offices in all three counties of Delaware we represent injured workers throughout the state.