The following article by news.com.au reveals that construction jobs are among Australia’s most deadly jobs.
OUR nation’s job market is booming — the mining industry is picking up again, contractors are practically begging teens to consider a trade and the defence force is advertising every career opportunity young adults could dream of.
But underneath the promise of six-figure salaries and glossy job ads, men working in those careers are increasingly struggling with depression and taking their own lives at a rate Australia has never seen.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australian men aged 15 to 44 and men are three times more likely than women to self-harm and three times more likely to take their own lives.
Six Australian men take their lives each day and shockingly, the number of suicides increased by 9 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
Several studies have identified links between suicide and occupation with a number of professions having double, sometimes even quadruple the rates of suicide when compared to the general population.
‘WE DON’T STICK OUR HAND UP AND SAY, ‘I NEED HELP’’ — CONSTRUCTION
Tradies, or men in blue-collar jobs, have some of the highest suicide rates in Australia with construction workers killing themselves at double the rate of any other occupation.
Leading the charge in raising awareness on tradie mental health issues is Mates in Construction, set up 10 years ago to educate workers on how they can spot when a mate is struggling.
While a lot of the attention and money in the construction industry goes towards ensuring workplace health and safety, the charity’s CEO Chris Lockwood said it’s death by suicide — six to seven times more than on-site accidental deaths — that should really hit home.
“That statistic just shows the amount of effort we need to put in to stop the deaths and when workers in the industry know that number it really hits home like, ‘Oh God, this is something we need to change.’
“It’s not good enough and it’s up to us as an industry to step up and do something.”
Mates in Construction is one of only a few charities in the world that has peer-review studies proving the program has taken strides in preventing suicide.
“We do know we have had a direct impact,” Mr Lockwood said, citing an 8 per cent drop in Queensland’s construction worker suicides from 2008 to 2013.
“It’s one of the trickiest things, evidencing that you were the reason someone hadn’t died by suicide. It’s not that straight forward but we know from the stories we hear that we’re making a difference.
“One example was when we rolled out the program in a worksite in a remote location and at the end of the first session we ran there, someone walked up to the front and explained that they had the pills in their room and a plan about how they were going to take their life on this particular rostered shift,” Mr Lockwood said.
The program, which has been rolled out to more than 140,000 tradies, is a first-hand, on-site way for construction workers to help each other.
“Our model is mates looking after mates and educating the workforce to identify when someone is struggling,” Mr Lockwood said.
“Sadly for men, one of the issues is we’re not as good as we might be in terms of help-seeking behaviour. Our tendency isn’t to stick our hand up and say ‘I need help.’”
Mates in Construction has set a target of a 15 per cent reduction in the rate of suicide across Australia in the next five years.
There are more than 750,000 construction workers in Australia and so far Mates in Construction has reached well over 85,000 of them.