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Regulatory Update: OSHA Aims to Prevent Construction Industry Suicides

Sept. 5, 2022
Construction Suicide Prevention Week highlights resources available to all those undergoing mental health challenges.

This week (September 5-9) is Construction Suicide Prevention Week. According to the CDC, the suicide rate for workers in construction and extraction is five times greater than the rate of all other work-related fatalities (based on 2018 data). What’s more, construction workers are four times more likely than people in the general population to end their own lives.

A task force comprising OSHA, Associated General Contractors, The Builders Association, leading construction companies and labor unions is calling on construction industry employers, trade groups and other organizations to join OSHA’s Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down this week. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of unique mental health challenges construction workers face by asking employers to pause work for a moment to share information and resources and urge employees to seek help if needed.

“Construction workers cope with unique causes of stress, such as uncertain seasonal work; remote work and job travel that keeps workers away from home and support systems; long, hard days and completion schedules; and the job-related risks of serious injuries,” explained Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker in a statement. “Left unchecked, these stressors can affect mental health severely and lead to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and—in some cases—suicide.”

Parker emphasized that suicide can be prevented with professional help and assistance, adding, “OSHA encourages employers, industry associations, labor organizations and workers to use all available resources to understand the problem and the warning signs of depression before tragedy strikes.”

In particular, the recently launched 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a federally funded project designed to improve crisis services and advance suicide prevention for U.S. residents. Supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Available 24/7 days a week, the 998 lifeline is a national network of more than 200 local crisis centers, combining custom local care and resources with national standards and best practices.

In a separate announcement, OSHA has formed an alliance with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to promote workplace mental health and suicide prevention awareness. The two organizations will develop information and products on workplace mental health and suicide prevention awareness in multiple languages. Other objectives of the alliance include AFSP contributing to a new chapter on Traumatic Stress for OSHA’s Safety and Health Management System directive; updating and expanding on OSHA’s Preventing Suicides webpage; and sharing information on suicide prevention, mental health and opioids during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September and Construction Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 5-9.

Click here to access OSHA’s mental health and crisis resources

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