BTEA pushes NYC for mental wellness programs as construction suicide rates eclipse all other industries

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Representing 1,200 union contractors in New York, the Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA) is raising awareness about mental wellness in the construction industry, including a package of proposals calling on the City of New York to include mental wellness in construction workers’ safety training and to report on industry suicides.

“Mental wellness and suicide prevention are uncomfortable topics, especially in the construction industry,” said BTEA President and CEO Elizabeth Crowley. “People don’t like to discuss it, but we need to talk about it. Construction workers have the highest rates of suicide among any occupation in the country, and we implore our city, state, and federal leaders to strengthen protections for these essential workers who serve as the backbone of our country’s prosperity.”

In 2022, more than 6,000 construction workers died from suicide in the U.S., according to The Center for Construction Research and Training’s analysis of CDC and BLS data. No occupation has a higher suicide rate than construction.

Construction workers are nearly six times more likely to die from suicide than from job site injuries and four times more likely to commit suicide than the average American, according to the Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA).

BTEA’s proposals include mandatory mental wellness training in New York City and nationwide, tracking progress in addressing the crisis, and increasing access to treatment.

“Approximately 390,000 construction workers in New York City and countless nationally are required to have safety training, but none of that training includes mental wellness,” said BTEA Executive Vice President Patrick A. Wehle. “This is a tremendous missed opportunity that, if corrected, will save lives.”

At its June 27 SAFEBUILD Conference, BTEA called for the following reforms:

  • NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene to report annually on suicides categorized by industry
  • NYC Department of Buildings to incorporate mental wellness into Site Safety Training Programs
  • Require mental wellness to be discussed as part of on-site safety orientations
  • Require Naloxone (Narcan) on larger construction sites to treat drug overdoses
  • OSHA to include mental wellness in OSHA-10 and OSHA-30 training

“America’s hard-working construction professionals are vital to our nation’s future, and tragically, we are losing so many in the industry to suicide,” said Bob Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). “At AFSP, we are providing critical mental health resources and programming to reach 500,000 construction workers across the country over the next five years.

“We support BTEA’s proposals, which will connect construction workers to mental health and suicide prevention training and ensure life-saving treatment is available on construction sites.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Fascinating article – but no reasons why workers are committing suicide. Might be something that supervisors should be aware of (signs) and find ways to intervene or find other support to workers at risk.

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