James Rudoni, MD of Mates in Mind, has said that as we get Britain building, we must build back better for workers as well as the economy.
Mates in Mind, a mental health charity, has welcomed measures to enable the return to work of more construction workers as the coronavirus lockdown ends. Under a new plan to boost the construction industry after weeks of stagnation, it is reported that councils will be asked to extend the working day for building sites and extend planning permission deadlines. Longer working days will help stagger arrival times and reduce the need for workers to travel to and from sites at rush hour.
Speaking on the 22nd June the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.”
Construction work has continued throughout the lockdown, although social distancing measures and other effects of the lockdown have caused it to slow down dramatically. James Rudoni, MD of Mates in Mind, said: “The construction industry will have a vital role to play in the recovery and I am pleased that by expanding the working day and extending planning permissions more people will be able to travel to work safely and developers will not be under undue pressure to complete work in a hurry. But we must bear in mind the impact of this crisis on workers’ overall mental wellbeing. Although mental health in construction is far better understood than it used to be, it its all too easily overlooked.”
A recent survey from the Chartered Institute of Building found that over the past year 87 per cent of construction workers experienced anxiety and 26 per cent had suicidal thoughts. 71 per cent responded they had no formal training over the past three years for mental health.
James Rudoni added: “It is clear that the government sees investment in infrastructure as vital to the economic recovery and I am sure the construction companies want to play their party in building our way out of the recession. As we ramp up construction, increase the training pipeline for construction apprentices and see more people returning to work we have a once in a generation opportunity to embed good health and wellbeing practices in how we work. I hope that employers in all sectors will be putting the wellbeing of their workforce front and centre as we see the lockdown recede.”