Each year 169 construction workers die by suicide, says the report, and so investing in workers' mental health is just as important as investing in their physical safety.
Suicide and suicidal behaviour in the industry is costing AU$1.57bn (£726m) each year, almost all of which is born by government at federal level, according to the report released by Mates in Construction (MIC). MIC is a charity established in 2008 to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers. It is owned and controlled by the Australian building and construction industry.
The report has been highlighted by Queensland government's workplace health and safety division, which says that the annual cost in the state is reportedly over AU$345bn.
The MIC report says that the findings demonstrate the need for greater investment in training construction workers to recognise if a co-worker is unwell, before it's too late.
The Doran Reports suggest that suicides and non-fatal suicides can have far-reaching adverse financial effects on the worker's family, employer and the government, due to production disturbance, human capital, medical, and administrative costs. These often can take years to finalise.
MIC has trained well over 87,000 construction workers in general awareness training to recognise when a mate is struggling. It has a network of more than 7,000 volunteer ‘connectors’ and workers prepared to help connect workmates to help when needed.
The organisation said that it is about taking action together, to fight a problem that is far greater than many would realise. It is an industry-led approach to an industry problem, helping each other to seek help and get better.
When a worker is left fully incapacitated after a non-fatal suicide, those costs can reach up to AU$3.27m, and the costs associated with a fatality can reach up to AU$2.72 million, says MIC.
MIC has set a target of a 15% reduction in the rate of suicide across Australia in the next five years. There are more than 750,000 construction workers in Australia and so far MIC said that it has reached well over 85,000 of them.
More about MIC at www.matesinconstruction.org.au.