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September 03, 2021
OSHA task force sponsors suicide prevention week

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) task force announced a weeklong Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down, planned for September 6–10, to raise awareness about the unique challenges construction workers face. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study found that men working in construction have one of the highest suicide rates compared with other industries. Their rate of suicide is about four times higher than the general population.

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A separate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic and that 11% of U.S. adults seriously considered suicide.

OSHA formed a task force of industry partners, labor unions, and educators to raise awareness of the types of stress that can push construction workers into depression and toward suicide.

“Work-related stress can have severe impacts on mental health and without proper support may lead to substance abuse and even suicide,” Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick said in an agency statement. On June 16, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee sent Doug Parker’s nomination to head OSHA to the Senate floor. Parker has not yet been confirmed.

The Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down began as a regional initiative out of OSHA’s Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, offices, and task force members included the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Associated General Contractors of Missouri, and Builders Association, along with the University of Iowa, the University of Kansas, Washington University, local unions, and several employers. More than 5,000 people participated in the 2020 Suicide Prevention Safety Stand-Down. The stand-down coincides with September’s National Suicide Prevention Month.

NIOSH: Depression more common in workers with diabetes

A new NIOSH study found that workers with diabetes may be at an increased risk for depression. Among workers with diabetes, young adults and women are most likely to experience depression, according to the institute.

NIOSH researchers found that the prevalence of depression among workers with diabetes was 30% higher than those without diabetes, and among workers surveyed, the prevalence of depression decreased with age.

Young adult workers who are between 18 and 34 years old and have diabetes were found to have the highest prevalence of depression—nearly 30% reported experiencing depression compared with just over 11% of workers surveyed over age 65. Young adult workers with diabetes who had another chronic condition were almost three times as likely to report depression. When researchers looked at the data by gender, female workers with diabetes in all age groups were more likely to self-report depression than their male counterparts.

Researchers identified study participants by looking at data from the 2014–2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the world’s largest telephone survey that included all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and 3 U.S. territories. The researchers’ analysis included respondents who reported being employed at the time of the survey and as having diabetes—a total of 84,659 people.

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