Working construction is one of the most dangerous jobs there is. Each day, workers are at risk of falling off of structures, getting crushed by machinery or struck by falling objects, and other hazards. The physical dangers can often lead to severe injury or death, but the mental health of the 10.7 million construction workers in the U.S. is often disregarded.
Mental health problems associated with construction work
There is new research that identifies the psychological challenges of working in construction. Common issues include:
- Stress from working dangerous jobs where their lives and those of coworkers are continually at risk.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among military and service personnel and affects construction workers, particularly when injured or having survived a close call.
- Project-based work is seasonal and inconsistent, which leads to uncertainty for professionals.
- The work is often physically demanding and performed under challenging conditions.
- Construction workers suffer from an above-average rate of alcohol and drug abuse.
Still a male-dominated workforce
Men made up nearly 90% of the construction industry in 2020. The gender makeup and masculine industry culture can mean that mental health challenges are more stigmatized than in many other professions. Even so, 83% of those surveyed said they experienced moderate or severe mental health challenges. Sadly, a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a rising and significantly high average suicide rate in the construction industry.
Employers can take action
Construction companies can take steps to address employees’ mental health:
- Be proactive in identifying and supporting workers at risk.
- Take problems seriously and offer resources for employees with trained mental health professionals.
Learning to recognize these issues can help reduce risks to employees and coworkers. Safety precautions, in turn, can prevent potential lawsuits filed by injured workers and their families.