Employers in construction industry need to play part dealing with suicide issues - trade company head

The head of a trades company says construction industry employers and managers need to play their part in ensuring the mental well-being of workers.

On Friday, Switched On Group, a family-owned trades company, is hosting a seminar on mental health and safety, led by mental health advocate Mike King. Hundreds of trade partners are expected to attend.

It's a timely event as the industry continues to struggle with high rates of suicide.

Research released in May by Site Safe revealed there had been 300 suicide cases over the past decade in the country's construction industry. Of those, 32.3 percent of cases were deemed by coroners to be somewhat influenced by workplace pressures.

Those pressures may include job insecurity, stress related to running a business, deadlines, and dealing with injury affecting ability to work.

Switched On chief executive Chris Hughes wants to ensure a conversation about mental health is happening in the industry - a personal endeavour after the sudden passing of his brother Jonny earlier this year.

Hughes told The AM Show on Wednesday that while workplace pressures were a stress on employees, financial and social issues also wore workers down.

"Over the last couple of years, we are seeing people come to us and talk to us a bit more about having issues, and it is never just about the workplace, it is always a lot of other things rolled into that as well."

"We want to get it out in the public arena, and make it feel like it it is much easier, especially for tradies, to talk. It is a male dominated industry, and it is that she'll be alright thing, where people just get on with their work and get it done."

Hughes believes employers and managers need to take responsibility for their workers as well as tradies' peers.  

"It comes down to employers and managers and everyone to play a part in this as well," he said.

"More and more emotional intelligence is becoming part of our roles as leaders or managers and using that to see 'hang on Fred's not right or Bob's not right, what's going on', and picking up on that.

"It is also the peers as well. If the guys are on the site with someone else during the day, they can see what is going on. Don't hold back, don't say nothing, ask someone for help."

The Switched On event will take place at Wainoni on Friday. A series of Mental Health Foundation videos, which Switched On have contributed to, will also become available online later this year.