Suicide prevention in the construction industry

We recently spoke about the stigma of anxiety disorders and how common they are within our industry. Although suicide is not always the result of a mental health condition, it is particularly prevalent in construction and labour hire:

These painful statistics highlight mental health as the biggest unspoken hazard on our worksites – one that needs far more attention and understanding if we’re to keep employees safe.

While businesses and labour hire companies can’t single-handedly solve mental health problems or prevent suicides, we can lead the way by removing barriers that prevent workers from speaking up and seeking help.

The lingering effects of COVID on mental health

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the mental health and suicide crisis in the construction and labour hire sectors to the forefront – and we’re continuing to feel its effects today.

While most industries were subject to lockdowns and work-from-home orders, builders and contractors continued to turn up onsite every day – despite the potential danger. Now, with the economy full steam ahead, they’re facing unprecedented demand and intense pressure to deliver on projects in an environment that’s still starved of both materials and workers.

Seb Kendrew, MACFORCE Australia’s HR Manager, has observed the change in narrative around mental health in the post-pandemic era – especially considering the skills shortage we’re currently facing.

“COVID has shown us how much employers need to consider life outside of work,” he says. “Can we provide the flexibility that a candidate needs for family life? Is what we’re offering going to make them feel fulfilled and encouraged to come to work each day?”

Suicide prevention training and recognition

However, considerate hiring and a strong work-life balance alone aren’t enough to head off mental health issues or suicide. During tough times, construction employers and labour hire companies must be proactive in building a culture of acceptance and change around these problems.

First aid training is essential. With suicide posing an even larger threat in the workplace than accidents, we should consider suicide prevention training to be just as important. MATES in Construction is an industry-backed charity that provides this research-based mental health awareness and suicide prevention training for construction and labour hire.

Anthony McShane, Founder of MACFORCE Australia, says that the company “encourages clients and candidates to get on board with a mental health first aid certificate”. He explains that the right training allows everyone to recognise the signs of mental health struggles and suicidal ideation – and know how to deal with those situations when confronted by them.

“Checking in on a mate at work, and knowing how to help them, could save their life”.


Mental health struggles have affected several of the team members at MACFORCE – directly and indirectly. It’s something that the company is actively trying to change the conversation around.

“We’ve been strong advocates for the R U OK? initiative every year,” says Anthony. “We shine a light on the topic of mental health throughout all our channels every September – to spread awareness and highlight effective methods for helping those who need it.”

MACFORCE offers candidates practical help – connecting them to a wide network of services that support all areas of their lives. This includes finance solutions, counselling and substance abuse professionals.

Anthony notes that all this has helped MACFORCE to both combat the current skills shortage and have a positive impact on people’s lives. “Our candidates know that we genuinely care about them. They appreciate the effort we put into trying to safeguard their mental health.”

“We find that people naturally come back to us when they need a change and that they trust us enough to recommend their friends and family.”


MACFORCE Australia is a recruitment company with heart that wants to change the way people are employed in Australia. This includes taking mental health and suicide seriously in labour hire. MACFORCE supports candidates to find suitable work placements – while supporting its clients to find suitable employees. Looking for a career with a business that values your mental health? Connect with us at

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