Industry’s cultural issues costing economy $8 billion annually

A new report into the construction industry highlights that urgent change is needed to address cultural issues that are costing the economy nearly $8 billion each year due to workplace injuries, mental illness, suicide, long work hours and a lack of diversity.

The Cost of Doing Nothing report calculates that the estimated economic cost of lost wellbeing from work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses in 2018 was $6.1 billion; the productivity cost of employees consistently working overtime was $708 million; the cost of mental ill-health was $643 million and the cost of higher incidence of male construction worker suicides compared to other industries was $533 million.

The report also outlined that since 2006, construction has had the lowest female representation of any industry in Australia.

In response to the issues raised in the report, the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce has developed a draft Culture Standard to improve the productivity and performance of the industry.

Key elements of the draft Culture Standard include:

  • Time for Life – Ensure people working in construction have enough time to rest and pursue activities outside work through initiatives such as flexible working arrangements and project scheduling that ensures workers are only working five days per week (or no more than 55 hours per week) and wherever possible, not on Saturdays, as is presently routine in the industry.
  • Diversity and Inclusion – Attract and retain a diverse range of people to work in the industry by addressing pay gaps, involving women in strategic decision-making roles, providing suitable amenities and removing offensive material in the workplace.
  • Wellbeing – Prioritise the mental and occupational health of the workforce through programs such as resilience training, suicide prevention, establishing ‘mental health first aiders’ and incorporating worker wellbeing to establish project timelines and delivery expectations.

Read more at Build Australia.