The national GC Suffolk is urging the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to incorporate suicide awareness and prevention training as a “core requirement” in its OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 curricula.
In a letter dated May 2 and sent to Douglas L. Parker, Assistant Secretary of Labor overseeing OSHA, John Fish, Suffolk’s Chairman and CEO, notes that more construction workers die annually from suicide than from all other workplace-related fatalities combined. The myriad causes that lead to suicides among construction workers include high psychological stress levels, chronic pain from the physical demands of work, emotional exhaustion, and substance and alcohol abuse.
On top of that, more than 15 percent of military veterans enter the construction industry after completing their service, and vets have a 50 percent higher rate of suicide than the general population’s.
“The time is now to rally our entire industry to address this dire issue,” states the letter. During Safety Week earlier this month, Suffolk hosted Mental Health Fireside Chats with noted clinicians to educate its employees on the problem and possible solutions. The firm also hosted webinars that inform employees about Suffolk’s mental health resources.
OSHA can guide the mental health discussion
The letter to Parker was co-signed by Brig. General (retired) Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base, a national nonprofit that’s the largest private-sector clinic in the U.S., having treated more than 30,000 vets and trained more than 85,000 clinicians.
Fish and Hammond believe that OSHA has a critical role to play in driving the discussion around prioritizing “a widespread culture of support and transparency regarding mental health,” through better training, awareness, and resources.
Here is a copy of the letter: