Importance of World Mental Health Day for construction
Today is World Mental Health Day, an important date for all manual workers. Whilst suicide has been reported as the first common cause of death for construction workers, a survey undertaken by the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) has found that over 60 percent of workers are suffering from stress related illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, with 30 percent taking time off as a result. However, over 70 percent shockingly did not inform any friends, family or co-workers.
Although it is imperative for construction companies to abide by health and safety regulations, it is imperative for companies to be aware of their workers’ mental health. With increased pressures, long hours, weather conditions and exhaustion affecting all on site, maintaining employee wellbeing will boost morale and enthusiasm to complete high quality products and ensure effective, clear decision making.
We take a look at what the construction sector is doing to enable workers to access support and promote positive wellbeing.
Mental health trained first aiders
Originally based within Australia, mental health aid courses are now available for individuals to learn, teach, promote or support workers who may be at risk or enable first aiders to spot the signs of any potential issues or concerns regarding an individual’s mental health.
The course is recognised in over 20 countries and is utilised within several sectors, such as construction, banking, health and social care. Packages can also be customised accordingly.
Mates in Construction
Based in Australia, charity Mates in Construction (MIC) was established back in 2008 as a result of the high number of suicides within the construction industry and AISRAP report in 2006. The charity focuses specifically on improving the health and mental wellbeing of workers within the construction and building sector.
Winning several awards, MIC offers several programs, such as suicide intervention and prevention courses, the organisation seeks to raise mental health awareness through training and guidance. This year, over 100,000 individuals have now been trained.
Anonymous online screening
Often it is difficult for individuals to realise or admit that they may have a problem regarding their mental health. In order to provide an anonymous, non-judgmental viewpoint, individuals can anonymously screen themselves online, view the results and encourage individuals to seek help.
Building Site to Boardroom (BS2B)
Launched this year, Building Site to Boardroom (BS2B) is a non-profit organisation, established by individuals from the construction and building sector, founded with the aim to increase and promote positive mental wellbeing.
Their interactive training courses help to reduce anxiety and depression through a set of tools and exercises, with a variety of training courses on offer for companies to utilise.
Healthy tradie project
The healthy tradie project, based within Australia helps to promote the health factor for workers within building and construction. With a 21-day transformation, the course helps promote healthy eating, increased wellbeing and a positive workforce.
State of Mind
Although a charity focused for sporting individuals, State of Mind uses sport and exercise to promote increased health and wellbeing. Originally stabslihed in 2011, the charity provides vital advice to support and encourage individuals to seek help where appropriate.
Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)
BESA have noted how important it is to raise mental health awareness within their organisation, working successfully alongside the Samaritans, who provide vital support and advice for individuals who are in need of support. BESA have also been successfully working alongside MIC.
Read the October 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine
Environment Agency clamps down on plastic films and wraps
Businesses in the waste and construction industries must ensure they deal with waste plastic properly to stop illegal exports, the Environment Agency (EA) has warned.
The warning comes as the Agency is increasingly aware of plastic film and wrap from the construction and demolition sector being illegally exported.
Exports are frequently being classified as ‘green list’ waste of low risk to the environment, but are often contaminated with materials such as mud, sand, bricks and wood, posing a risk to the environment and human health overseas, and undermining legitimate businesses in the UK seeking to recover such waste properly.
During the last year, the EA has intercepted shipments to prevent the illegal export of this material on numerous occasions. The Agency inspected 1,889 containers at English ports and stopped 463 being illegally exported. This, combined with regulatory intervention upstream at sites, prevented the illegal export of nearly 23,000 tonnes of waste.
Those convicted of illegally exporting waste face an unlimited fine and a two-year jail sentence. But construction firms could also face enforcement action if contaminated construction and demolition waste plastic is illegally exported.
Malcolm Lythgo, Head of Waste Regulation at the Environment Agency, said it is seeing a marked increase in the number of highly contaminated plastic film and wrap shipments from the construction and demolition industry being stopped by officers.
“I would strongly urge businesses to observe their legal responsibility to ensure waste is processed appropriately, so we can protect human health and the environment now and for future generations. It’s not enough just to give your waste to someone else - even a registered carrier. You need to know where your waste will ultimately end up to know it’s been handled properly. We want to work constructively with those in the construction and waste sectors so they can operate compliantly, but we will not hesitate to clamp down on those who show disregard for the environment and the law.”
There are a number of simple, practical steps that businesses can take to ensure that C&D site waste is handled legally.
Construction businesses should check what’s in their waste
- Different waste types need different treatments and so must be correctly categorised to ensure it goes to a site that is authorised to handle it safely. Businesses can also check if their waste is hazardous as different rules might apply.
- If you are removing the waste yourself, you must be a registered waste carrier- registration can be carried out here. When a waste collector is transporting your site waste, you must check they have a waste carrier’s licence from the EA.
- You must also check that the end destination site any waste is taken to is permitted to accept it and has the right authorisations in place. Keep a record of any waste that leaves your site by completing a waste transfer note or a consignment note for hazardous waste which record what and how much waste you have handed over and where it is going.
Waste management industry must adhere to export controls
- Contaminated C&D waste plastic - including low-density polyethylene (LDPE) wrap and film - must be exported with prior consent from the EA as well as competent authorities in transit and destination countries.
- Those involved in the export of such waste must ensure that it meets the requirements set under the relevant export controls, such as being almost free-from contamination; the destination sites are appropriately licensed to receive and treat the waste; and waste is correctly managed once received.
The EA will continue to actively target those who export contaminated C&D plastic waste illegally, including any accredited packaging exporters who issue Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) against such material in breach of their Conditions of Accreditation.
Businesses involved in the shipment of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling.
Anyone with information regarding the illegal export of waste including C&D waste plastics can contact the EA’s Illegal Waste Exports team at: [email protected] or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their website