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Take care of mental health during period of great pressure, house builders say this Safe Work Month

Jamie ThannooGeraldton Guardian
Warren Taylor, left, with Rhys Eversten and Simon Evans from Sun City Plumbing
Camera IconWarren Taylor, left, with Rhys Eversten and Simon Evans from Sun City Plumbing Credit: Jamie Thannoo

A well-known Geraldton home builder has revealed the under-the-pump industry is in the most stressful and intense state he has ever seen and expects it to continue for another 12 months.

Warren Taylor’s confronting comments come as members of the home building industry call on employers, workers and clients to be aware of their and others’ mental health, as the sector faces a period of enormous pressure.

“It is an absolute pressure cooker with everyone battling to get materials, schedule trades, and finish jobs, while dealing with weather events, and keeping to budgets and timelines for their clients,” Mr Taylor said.

Whether it’s clients and businesses, or builders and trades, Mr Taylor said it was important for everyone to respect each other.

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“People have got to be patient, and understand the situation that all these men and women, are in,” he said.

“Don’t hassle them, they’re doing their best.”

Increasing demand for housing, supply issues, rising costs and labour shortages have put “unprecedented” pressure on the industry in the last two years.

October marks Safe Work Month, a reminder to remain focused on health and safety in the workplace, and one that is needed now more than ever, according to Home Industry Association (HIA) WA executive director Michael McGowan.

“We understand there are a whole range of pressures from an industry and consumer perspective, and in this Safe Work Month call for everyone to be mindful of the safety and wellbeing of those around them in whatever role they may play,” he said.

“In Safe Work Month and in every month, we ask people to be mindful of those around them, to respect the pressures, put in place the necessary safeguards and look out for each other.”

Mr Taylor said mental health and industry wellbeing was his biggest concern, with builders, trades, manufacturers and suppliers “all pushed to the absolute limit and are wearing out fast”.

He said he worked hard to keep the lines of communication open and ease pressure wherever possible, adding the importance of reaching out to have a conversation could not be underestimated.

“We have 26 projects running, and we visit every site, every day, to check in with people, and to ensure all safety measures and practices are being applied,” he said.

In recent years, serious mental health issues have begun to be recognised in the construction industry.

In Australia, men in the construction industry, compared with men in other industries, are 53 per cent more likely to die of suicide, according to a 2020 study.

Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work, according to national suicide prevention group MATES in Construction.

One in four workers in the industry are affected by depression and anxiety at any one time, according to HIA.

“The main thing is that we’ve got to look after each other and we’ve got to talk,” Mr Taylor said.

“If something is going wrong don’t be afraid to speak up and say ‘listen I might need a day or two off.’”

“People have got to talk, it isn’t be a shame to talk about it, and you’ve got to trust people.”

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Lifeline: 13 11 14

MATES in Construction: 1300 642 111

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