The Power of Pause: Safety and Mental Health Awareness in Construction

By Jim Ruggiero, CSHS, CHST • May 3, 2024 • LESS THAN 5 MINUTES

Every year, during Mental Health Awareness Month, we take significant steps to spotlight the critical issue of mental well-being, particularly in the construction industry—a field as demanding mentally as it is physically. At EDiS, we integrate this focus into our core Safety and Health initiatives by participating in May Safety Stand Downs—dedicated pauses in our work to engage deeply on Safety and Health topics.

The construction industry, known for its tough exteriors and stoic workforce, has an urgent need to address the internal battles many of our workers face. With a suicide rate alarmingly higher than the national average, it’s clear that mental health needs to be part of our daily Safety conversations.

What are Safety Stand Downs?

Safety Stand Downs provide a unique opportunity to break the routine and bring every member of our team together. It’s a moment where we can collectively pause and reflect not just on physical safety practices but also on the mental resilience required in our high-pressure work environments. This initiative is about prevention and protection—the core of our Project Zero program.

EDiS Director of Safety & Health, Jim Ruggiero, on the job site for National Safety Stand Down to prevent falls in construction.

The Role of Leadership in Mental Health Initiatives

As leaders, it is our responsibility to model the behaviors we want to see. By actively participating in these discussions and sharing our own experiences, we can lead by example and demonstrate that it’s okay not to be okay. This leadership commitment is crucial in changing the culture within the industry from one of silence and stoicism to one of support and openness.

Looking Ahead: Building a Safer Environment

The conversations initiated during Safety Stand Downs do not end there. They are part of a larger, ongoing dialogue that spans all levels of our organization. We are committed to maintaining this momentum, continually promoting mental health awareness in construction and integrating it into our comprehensive safety and health strategy.

Our goal is clear: to ensure that every person on an EDiS job site—whether an employee, subcontractor, client, or visitor—feels valued and protected, both physically and mentally. This commitment is reflected in our Project Zero, aiming for zero accidents and zero lost-hours by addressing issues at their root, including mental health challenges.

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, let us all remember the power of a pause—the power to stop, talk, and support one another. It’s not just about preventing accidents; it’s about building a legacy of care, strength, and resilience that defines what it truly means to be a leader in construction safety and health.

Let’s use this month to reinforce our commitment to every worker’s well-being, paving the way for a healthier, safer construction industry. Together, we build not just structures, but also a supportive community where everyone can thrive.