Contractors working with Land Securities must sign up to a new scheme which helps site workers deal with mental health issues.
Clive Johnson, group head of health, safety and security at Land Securities and chair of the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG), said all contractors and their supply chains must be signed up to “Mates in Mind” before they can tender for work with the developer. The company will be urging fellow clients to follow suit.
Mates In Mind, which has been operating in Australia as Mates in Construction, is a network of people trained in helping those in the sector deal with mental health issues. It was unveiled by HCLG in September and will begin operations later this month. More details will be announced at an industry summit intended at boosting health of workers to which 170 CEOs of the biggest contractors have been invited.
The summit picks up the themes from two previous summits held in the past year aimed at tackling the health – not just the safety – of workers.
Clive Johnson: “difference”
HCLG said that Mates in Mind would help employers in the sector address the issue of poor mental health, and have an impact across a workforce of 2.5 million.
It said: “Every year, one in four people in the UK will experience either stress, anxiety or depression. In the most extreme cases, these issues can result in someone taking their life.
“It is estimated that the number of deaths from suicide in the construction industry could be 10 times higher than those from fatal accidents at work. Working together with the British Safety Council and key partners in construction and mental health, we believe we can make a significant difference.”
Johnson added: “We are encouraging by example and are putting Mates in Mind in our tender documents for projects over six weeks’ duration – we want to see this embedded in every construction project.”
He said that Land Securities had already introduced mental health first aiders. “It’s been something that people have not wanted to speak about previously, but things are changing. People now see it as a strength not a weakness to talk about stress and the pressures they feel.”
Johnson said he’s not expecting Mates in Mind to be “a hard sell” as those that deliver the training course “speak the same language and can relate to those working on site”. He added: “I’m convinced we will get other clients to sign up.”
HCLG was set up in 2015 in response to research presented at the 2015 Construction Industry Advisory Committee, which exposed the high number of occupational health deaths in the sector.