Coming out of the dark

Building a culture of safety includes mental health awareness and suicide prevention

The roofing industry has long been viewed by safety agencies and insurance providers as a high-risk segment of the construction market because of its associated fall risks, potential for fire-related injuries and other hazards.

But there is another risk facing construction workers that kills nearly three times as many workers as falls each year—yet it receives much less attention. In 2012, 1,324 construction workers died by suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared with 544 deaths as a result of "falls to a lower level" in 2012 reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Sadly, the deaths by suicide in the construction industry usually go unreported, and the issues causing them have been ignored as a health and safety priority. The good news is just as recordable injury and fatality cases have steadily declined during the past decades as a result of improved safety training and preventive measures, so can suicide deaths.

Starting the conversation