Making mental health a priority in construction and civil engineering
Making mental health a priority in construction and civil engineering.
A Dorset construction company has demonstrated their commitment to the wellbeing of industry professionals by employing a dedicated mental health team. Woodmace, who are based in Poole, specialise in groundworks, civil engineering and concrete structures.
In a sector which is overwhelmingly male, mental health statistics hit very close to home. Men account for approximately three quarters of suicide deaths, with it being the leading cause of death in males below the age of 50. Woodmace Group Managing Director, Joshua Eiles-Clarke, said “Of course in our industry there has always been something of a macho culture which for whatever reason can make people reluctant to take care of themselves. It’s something that we’re working on and progress is definitely being made. In much the same way that PPE is now fully accepted and expected on sites, we’re hoping that soon as much emphasis will be placed on mental health as physical health and safety.”
The company have had a mental health team in place since January 2020 with professionals stationed both at head office and on sites. One such professional is Woodmace Contracts Manager and Mental Health First Aider John Frain “Mental health has always been an interest of mine so when I was asked to become the point of contact for MHFA within the company I was more than happy to embrace the role, take on a new professional challenge and of course be available to help my fellow colleagues be it with direct advice or just for a helpful chat if and when required” he said. “In terms of reception, people have been thankful and are delighted that Woodmace now have a dedicated MHFA onboard, as this is something that’s never happened before within the company but shows a huge positive step forward not just for Woodmace but within the industry. Woodmace are leading the way as 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no policies on mental health. However, the risk of suicide in construction is 1.6 times higher than the UK average.
As an industry we have a responsibility to look after our employees. The hope is that we will set a trend and in years to come opening up and talking about mental health issues will be just as normal among construction operatives and professionals as putting on your safety boots and high vis!”
In recent years mental health is a topic which has rightly been pushed to the fore, particularly with the effects of COVID-19 and the restrictions that have resulted. As the taboo around the subject rightly dissipates, individuals and businesses have the opportunity to take the initiative in caring for the people around them. Having trained staff on call to deal with concerns seems like a step in the right direction. Should others follow suit it can only benefit employees and society as a whole.
About Woodmace Ltd.
Woodmace are a specialised civil engineering and construction company, based in Poole Dorset and work throughout the South of England. Specialisms include groundworks, civil engineering, concrete structures, and soil stabilisation. Since 1986 Woodmace have provided these services to main contractors, government departments and local authorities. In 2020, long term employee Joshua Eiles-Clarke took over the business as owner and group managing director with the mission of driving progress within both Woodmace and the industry as a whole. This places an emphasis on staff welfare and development as well as continuous development in technology and processes. The company currently employ over 150 staff in the Dorset area.
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