Addressing the losses to Suicide in New Zealands Construction Workforce


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Site Safe have been proactive in  exploring what is occurring for their workforce, after recognising the sectors losses to suicide.   A report called Suicide in New Zealand’s Construction Industry Workforce: Factors Identified in Coronial Reports can be read here–resources/research/sitesaferesearch/
Key points  from the report appreciate the complex factors that may contribute to suicide risk for construction industry workers.   In relation to work related issues, they have identified a range of contributing factors to mental distress in the construction workforce:

  • Job insecurity or uncertainty
  • Work-related stress particularly for self-employed contractors and business owners
  • Injury or illness impacting the capacity to work

Site Safe have promoted the need for more investment in addressing the mental wellbeing of its construction workforce. From their study, they present the following recommendations:

  • The sector leadership aims to minimise and eliminate risk of mental distress to its workforce
  • Build evidence-based suicide prevention and mental health education and resources
  • Work with mental health experts to adapt programmes such as MATES in Construction to be suitable for small and medium enterprise owner/operators.

In the vocational education and training sector:

  • For curriculum that relates to mental health, financial literacy and business management skills, from apprenticeship to specialist levels
  • Build mental health education into all health and safety training
  • For the mental health sector to prioritise depression and substance use in mental health education initiatives given the prevalence of these issues in the construction industry
  • Ensure suicide prevention and mental health education initiatives cater to construction businesses of all sizes and caters to the needs of self-employed construction business owners (for example to cover mental health and wellbeing of their workers as well as themselves and building resilience and healthy coping strategies to manage a wide variety of stressors across work and personal contexts).

In the research field:

  • To increase the knowledge base and to understand the best solutions for those impacted by an injury, and the consequences to a construction industry workers’ mental health
  • Evidence of suicide prevention and mental health education programmes that show success in the context of New Zealand’s construction industry
  • Studies of help-seeking behaviour of men in the construction industry.

The construction industry is building its momentum to address the mental health and wellbeing of its workforce. With work under way in both the major membership organisations (Registered Master Builders of New Zealand and New Zealand Certified Builders) and the piloting of the MATES in Construction programme on New Zealand commercial sites.

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