Mental health and wellness, though never included in Safety Week before, may be one of the biggest safety issues on our jobsites today.
When people who are struggling with substance abuse, depression, anxiety and personality disorders show up to work they are likely to be distracted and fatigued, and may have severely impaired judgment and perception. This could obviously result in incidents or injuries to themselves or someone else, or – at its worst case – self-inflicted injury or even death.
Why does it hit us so hard? There are many factors in our jobs that have an impact. First, it is a high-pressure industry. We are driven by schedule, budget and production demands. We are always pushing, and that can take a toll. But maybe most important, we are an “old school” and “tough” industry. This often prevents people from opening up, sharing shortcomings, or asking for help. This is what we need to fix. For many, a coworker could be a last line of defense. We need to educate ourselves and be on the lookout for warning signs, and we need to encourage people to open up and seek help when necessary.
I encourage you to take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and know who to go to for help. We are all in this together, and together we can eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and asking for help.
Frank Wampol, Vice President of Safety and Health