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Building Products January 2018

SPECIAL REPORT THE SILENT SUFFERING ONSITE With nearly half of construction workers reportedly losing sleep due to work-related stress, Julian Roberts, CEO of e-learning solutions provider, EssentialSkillz, discusses the vast and sometimes unknown impacts that stress has on a construction site. Estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in 2015/2016, reported that there were 488,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK, which equated to a staggering 11.7 million working days lost. When looking at stress in isolation, it accounted for 37% of all work-related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health. This just goes to show what a neglected condition stress at work is and how many people are suffering in silence. With stress affecting people’s personal and professional lives, it’s an issue that employers need to take responsibility for, as part of their duty to look after their staff’s physical and mental wellbeing. A company is not only directly impacted by loss of production caused by employee ill health, it has a 50 BUILDING PRODUCTS | JANUARY 2018 responsibility to take reasonable steps to understand the causes and symptoms of stress and help to minimise its impact on employees. While these UK-wide figures are not sector specific, it’s a worrying trend that is reflected in the construction industry. Construction is already one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK, with the most workrelated fatalities during 2016/17. If we consider the deadly impact that stress may have on its workers, in addition to work-related incidents, construction is an industry that can be quickly tarnished with connotations of physical and mental dangers, damaging its reputation furthermore. It’s time that the industry took care of both the physical and mental health and wellbeing of its employees, tackling the cause of stress as a priority. Causes of stress have been investigated before and are a good indicator to employees of where to begin. A survey conducted by A-Safe earlier this year revealed that 48% of construction workers lose sleep from workplace stress, with workload, client demands and budget concerns, highlighted as the biggest worries. In 2016, the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) conducted a survey with its construction worker members, which exposed some concerning insights into the scale of mental health problems in the construction industry. 64% of respondents said they were suffering from stress, 76% said they had, at some point, suffered stress in the workplace, and 30% of respondents had taken time off work due to stress. Most alarming of all, was that 72% said they


Building Products January 2018
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