american flag EN
magnifying glass
Featured Project

Hard hat, earplugs, safety vest. Don’t forget a pair of steel-toed boots and good eye protection — and, of course, a sharp focus on what you’re doing.

Safety is paramount on any job site. From basic PPE to new innovations in technology and equipment, we’re constantly working to make sure every one of our employee-owners gets home safe and sound each night.

Yet, too often in this industry, safety concerns are limited to physical health, while mental health is frequently ignored or dismissed outright. To make matters worse, we’ve hit the dog days of summer: Our people are hot, tired and pushing hard, working through long 100-degree days, and our traveling crews are worn out from the road. This is also the time of year that brings back-to-school stress, and many of our families moved homes ahead of the fall semester.

It’s no surprise so many of our friends and co-workers are hitting that tipping point. We need to pause and recognize that.

This September we observe National Suicide Prevention Month, a time when employers, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies and community members unite to promote awareness of what’s often a hidden crisis, especially for those in the construction industry.

As the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention writes, “Safety starts with what’s under the hard hat.”

Indeed, the need has never been more urgent.


I get it: It’s a hard thing to talk about. But we need to talk about it. While suicide touches every demographic, the construction industry is hit even harder. Consider some sobering statistics:

  • The risk of dying by suicide is four times higher for construction workers.
  • While approximately three jobsite fatalities occur each day, there are 10 to 12 suicides among construction workers.
  • The industry ranks #2 among occupations with the highest suicide rates.

The numbers are sounding alarm bells across our industry, as employers and advocacy organizations have committed to reversing this trend. Stephen Sandherr, CEO of AGC of America, elaborates:

“We cannot stand by while a silent epidemic of suicide takes place within our industry. We want to reduce the stigma of mental health issues in this industry, let people know it is OK to ask for help and, ultimately, save lives.”

We’ve been extremely fortunate to not have as many setbacks when it comes to mental health, and that’s a testament to Billy Sapp and the foundation this company was built on. But we’re not immune from the stresses of the work, and we want to do everything we can to protect our people.

We’ve always been a growing company, especially in recent years with the addition of our new partners in the Southwest region, Achen-Gardner Construction and Rummel Construction. While this expansion is certainly positive, we want to ensure every employee-owner feels supported and safe through that growth. After all, our people are the foundation of the company and an asset that cannot be found anywhere else. It’s one of the reasons “People” is the first of our 5Ps—the core values we live by. I’m passionate about a lot of things when it comes to our people, and well-being is certainly at the top of the list.


How did we even get here? I would argue that for too long the industry simply wasn’t paying attention. While many people may feel like the problem didn’t used to exist, the truth is, it did. We just weren’t giving it the focus it deserves or the space to talk about it freely.

And let’s be honest: A male-dominated workforce ­often tends to be more stoic and self-reliant, which are traits that can make people more reluctant to ask for help when they need it. Plus, many workers may be worried that seeking assistance may signal to superiors you’re not willing to work hard — or that you just can’t cut it. Marcos Iglesias, MD, chief medical director for Travelers Insurance, explains the need for action in Daily Construction News:

“Some in the construction industry have noted that construction workers potentially have a perfect storm of suicide risk factors. … Today, it is more important than ever to be aware of the problem and face it head-on, including having open, frank conversations, which can destigmatize mental health conditions and create a supportive environment with available resources to help.”

That perspective clearly highlights the need for National Suicide Prevention Month. We need to work as an industry to eliminate the all-too-common culture of “just suck it up” and replace it with one that’s more understanding and empathetic.

As we tell our project managers, foremen, and superintendents, you need to be role models to your crew. Ask yourself: Are you being safe? Are you making the kind of decisions you want them to make each day? Are you listening to your employees? While we can’t necessarily solve an individual’s problems, we can at least be aware of what to listen for, we can educate ourselves on the warning signs, and we can create a culture that feels safe.

Safety has always been paramount on any job site. But safety is not limited to just OSHA-defined recordable incidents. Instead, it’s about focusing on the person holistically — considering not only their physical safety but also their emotional, social and mental well-being. It’s just one of the reasons we offer a robust employee assistance program for all our employee-owners, to give them a confidential resource they can turn to for help.

“Construction work is noble,” ABC’s Greg Sizemore said, “and every person in the industry matters and is worthy of resources and investment.”

We completely agree. Our people are the most important part of our business. It’s time all of us in the industry step up and expand our definition of “safety.” Only then can we truly honor and support those who make all this work possible.


Do you or someone you know need help? Contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 24 hours a day by calling or texting 988 from any phone.

Amy Allen is the chief administrative officer and general counsel for ESC, overseeing all human resources and legal needs for the Emery Sapp Construction family of companies. With almost 25 years of experience in the legal and HR fields, she provides strategic leadership and risk management guidance and brings a passion for aligning the company’s unique culture with its vision.

Published onPublicado en September 6, 2023
People Personas | Safety Seguridad


0 people reactedla gente reacciono