In partnership with the Health in Construction Leadership Group and its members in the construction and civil engineering industries, the British Safety Council, a founding partner of the mental health programme Mates in Mind, is supporting the safety campaign organised by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), ‘Stop. Make a Change’.

The half-day stand down, scheduled for the morning of 18 April, involving thousands of construction and civil engineering workers throughout the UK, will be an expression of the industry’s commitment to health and safety and, in particular, to four issues: fatigue, mental health, respiratory illness and plant safety.

The stand down, which is at the heart of the new campaign, is spearheaded by CECA and supported by the HSE, as well as leading construction companies, such as Balfour Beatty and Skanska and clients, such as Thames Tideway and Heathrow Airport. They will use this opportunity to discuss their commitment in relation to each issue.

Many of the companies involved in the ‘Stop. Make a Change’ campaign are among 260 organisations which have expressed interest in the Mates in Mind programme. 

Mates in Mind was launched in January 2017 to raise awareness and understanding of poor mental health in the construction sector. The programme has been designed in response to the expectations and requirements of the industry’s 2.1 million-strong workforce and it is being developed in close partnership with leading British mental health charities. The purpose of Mates in Mind is also to bring the industry together to openly talk and address the stigma associated with mental health.

The British Safety Council is currently conducting the first stage roll-out of the 45-minute awareness training, testing and refining its content to the needs of the participating companies and the construction industry.

Michael Whitmore, Programme Lead for Mates in Mind, said: The ‘Stop. Make a Change’ campaign is an excellent opportunity to review the progress that has been made in relation to key concerns for the construction industry, such as fatigue, mental health, respiratory illness and plant safety. These efforts have made Britain one of the safest places in the world to work, yet there is much more to be done.

“During the national half-day stand down, employers will be able to discuss their commitment to positive mental health, which is so crucial in an industry where workers are ten times more likely to die as a result of suicide than from on-site accidents (source: Samaritans and the Centre for Mental Health). For some, this will be the first opportunity to start a conversation about mental health, share their concerns and request help if necessary.

“Starting these conversations is what Mates in Mind awareness training is designed to do.  This is the first, and often the most difficult, step towards breaking down the stigma around mental health and we are delighted that the industry is showing such enthusiastic support for the programme.”