More than 1,000 construction and business sites across the country yesterday took part in the annual MATES in Construction ‘Fly the Flag Day’, raising awareness to help prevent suicide in an industry where it is six times more likely that a worker is lost to suicide than a workplace accident.
“The organisation’s ‘Fly the Flag’ initiative has gained more and more momentum each year, with the number of participating sites more than doubling from last year,” said Chris Lockwood, MATES CEO.
“For the first time this year we have mining and energy businesses participating along with construction sites.”
MATES have now trained more than 140,000 workers as part of their program, which develops life-saving skills to recognise when a co-worker may be doing it tough, and how to step in.
According to Lockwood, the construction industry, which is predominantly male, has a culture that can often leave workers feeling isolated and not knowing how to ask for help.
“Factors such as job insecurity, high work demands, and financial stress combined with relationship breakdowns put workers in the construction industry at greater risk, and MATES will continue to do all we can to prevent suicides in this and similar high-risk industries,” Lockwood continued.
“Each year 190 Australians who work in construction take their own life and this accounts for a suicide in the industry every second day. It’s important for workers to know that there is somewhere and someone to turn to.
“Each and every worker should have access to our program, which is an industry-led approach designed, researched and implemented specifically to address these serious issues in the construction sector.
“We’re also proud to have been able to partner with businesses and workers in the mining and energy sectors who face similar pressures in unique work environments to access the support they need.
“By training workers to recognise when their fellow mates need help and connecting them with the right services is how we can reduce the scourge of suicide – to do this we need the continued support of both government and industry,” Lockwood concluded.