A construction union has revealed concerns about the mental health of construction workers at Hinkley Point nuclear power station, the UK’s largest construction project.
Unite says it has received reports of at least 10 suicide attempts at the site in just the first four months of this year.
More than 4,000 workers are currently employed at the construction site in North Somerset, with work expected to last at least ten years.
According to union officials, the worrying increase in suicide attempts this year highlights serious concerns for the mental well-being of site workers. The union also reports that there has been an increase in the number of workers signing off sick with stress, anxiety and depression, and a rise in site workers who admit they are suffering from mental distress.
“We were in utter shock when they told us the statistics around suicides and mental health,” Malcolm Davies, a convenor at the Unite union at Hinkley Point C told The Guardian.
“The scale of the mental health issues at Hinkley is something I have never seen before.”
“We are in a phase now with mental health where we were with safety 50 years ago. The same number of people are going off, only now they are not going off with injuries. They are going off with stress.”
The union believes that one of the causes of mental distress amongst the workers could be linked to loneliness and relationship breakdowns resulting from being away from their families.
“At a time when suicide rates are more than three times the national average for men, the sector needs to develop a better strategy to protecting the wellbeing of its workforce.
“Employers not only have a duty of care to ensure both the physical and mental wellbeing of workers, promoting well-being is a win-win as it also reduces the amount of lost days from work and increases employee retention and overall profitability.”
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