Read part 1 here.
The other side of health
An area that is still taboo for many in the workplace is the issue of mental health. Stress, depression and anxiety are often overlooked and, in some cases, ignored by an employer. In an industry such as construction, workers rarely talk about how they are feeling. Research from Mind reflects that many businesses do have a culture of fear and silence around mental health, which can result in long-term sick leave and the eventual resignation of staff.
The company has found that when staff are encouraged to talk openly with work colleagues, whether that be in a workshop or through interactive talks and forums, they realise just how many people either suffer from issues themselves or know someone who does. Everyone is affected by a mental health issue at one time or another and the company is working to remove the stigma that many associate with this side of health through understanding and education.
Joanne Davis, HR Business Partner, Steve Tagg, Human Resources Director, and a CAPITA nurse onsite at Bardon Hill.
Construction is associated with more physical job roles. However, the state of mind of an employee plays an important part in their performance – a lack of focus or the effects of anxiety can result in serious physical consequences. Practical workshops and first aid mental health courses run in partnership with the charity Mind, together with toolbox talks, have provided workers with the opportunity to get involved in interactive discussions.
Aggregate Industries also recognises that, at times, the pace of life and work can result in added pressures. This can lead to staff working under stress, increasing the chances of an accident occurring due to lack of concentration. As a result, the company has provided managers across the business with training and information to help them identify the symptoms of stress early and introduce support to those affected.
Starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult, and the feedback received so far has proven effective in building confidence within the management team and providing assurance to the workforce.
The future of health and safety
The Healthy You campaign is not about creating a ‘nanny state’, it is about providing information and support to make a real difference for the health and wellbeing of each employee. The company is continuing to research new ways to keep its employees informed and is expanding into new areas, including awareness of UV protection onsite at the quarries and working with its ‘Hearts and Minds’ champions to engage with colleagues at a grass roots level.
There is no doubt that the approach to health and safety is evolving and companies can no longer ignore the need to focus upon the health and wellbeing of employees throughout their working life. People need to be fitter for longer and no matter whether it is within a quarry or an office, health has an impact on everything we do inside and outside of work.
Written by Steve Tagg, Human Resources Director, Aggregate Industries. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the November 2014 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.
Read the article online at: https://www.worldcement.com/europe-cis/03112014/prioritising-employee-health-part-2-744/