In the UK, more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year which equates to an average of 18 a day. The realisation of how many of these deaths could be prevented has led to RSS Infrastructure, a leading supplier of infrastructure services, and INFRA Skills, the UK’s premier safety critical and non-safety critical training provider, designing a series of mechanisms aimed at reducing fatigue and improving working conditions, As part of ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ the companies are operating in association with International Association for Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation to help de-stigmatise the perceptions surrounding mental health and suicide, and letting people know it’s ‘Ok to Talk’.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the suicide rate among male labourers is three times higher than the national average for men. Research has shown that long hours, low pay and lack of job security could be to blame. Furthermore, studies have shown that men in particular find it difficult to discuss any issues they are having in fear of persecution from their peers. It is a necessity that within work environments, people feel safe enough to talk about their feelings and get the support they need.
RSS Infrastructure and INFRA Skills have put in place an extensive array of initiatives, to reduce the negative impact that a working environment can have on a person. High levels of fatigue from working long hours can result in lower standards of performance and safety, as well as having an effect on the individual’s wellbeing. RSS utilise a fatigue monitoring system which commences during the rostering process, where the in-house CRM is used to calculate the travel time to and from site, shift duration and work type. Any concerns with travel exceedance or shift duration (14 hours from door to door) are automatically flagged ensuring that workers cannot be rostered to shifts or projects unless adequate measures, such as local accommodation, are put in place to ensure that ‘Everyone [returns] home safe, everyday”. RSS have also taken precautions to make the transportation of workers to the site safer. They have become the first company in the rail sector to utilise a specialist Driver Awareness Warning System (DAWS). The warning system is a dash-mounted device and focuses on the driver’s retina and measures their ‘blinking pattern’ sounding audible warnings if signs of drowsiness, fatigue and/or attention is diverted from the road. The Group also ensures that all salaries are above the national minimum wage, as well as providing full mandatory PPE.
RSS Infrastructure Ltd, are committed to providing support to anyone who may have been involved in or witnessed a traumatic incident. There is an increased risk of developing a mental health condition as a result of trauma, figures show that 10% of men, and 25% of women are affected in some way after a trauma.
With plans in place to create a Wellbeing Network, volunteers within the company will complete a mental health first aid course, then meet regularly to discuss initiatives, awareness and support. The Traumatic Incident Plan is already in place, and this ensures that sufficient resources are available to all employees to raise awareness of the normal reaction to a potentially traumatic incident, and to embed principles of watchful waiting throughout the business. The support network for this incident plan will include their wellbeing champions and safety council.
Through these initiatives RSS Infrastructure and INFRA Skills are helping bolster the efforts that Network Rail have already achieved through their work with the Samaritans to reduce the number of rail suicides, using preventative initiatives such as their ‘Intervention Training’ for railway staff. Coaching staff who work within the rail sector, it teaches them how to identify, approach and support a potentially suicidal person.
In the last 2 years there has been a decline of 18% in rail suicides, proving that these support mechanisms such as RSS’s Traumatic Incident Plan, are aiding the nationwide campaign to reduce the number of premature deaths by suicide.
For more information, or for a safe way to seek advice there are many helplines available.
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