Kier has produced a series of hard-hitting safety videos following the journey of a Kier Highways worker as he battles with his mental health following an incident while working. Here, Dave Wright executive director of Kier Highways, discusses why the videos, called ‘Safety In Mind’, are so important and why we need to ensure we’re always looking at ways to protect the mental health of our workforce.
“At Kier Highways we’re always looking at ways to promote personal wellbeing and the safety of our workforce. We wanted to lead the charge with our employees and encourage them to look after their mental health and to keep an eye out for their colleagues who might be struggling.
We take the mental health of our employees very seriously and in Kier Highways we have 66 mental health first aiders and 10 youth mental health first aiders. We invested in this as we felt it was important to educate our workforce to care for themselves and others. We want to remove the stigma of mental health and encourage our employees to talk to each other about issues inside and outside of the workplace if they are impacting their mental wellbeing.
Over the last five years around 200 people from the construction industry have taken their lives. As an industry it’s important we raise awareness of mental health and be proactive in dealing with it. We work collaboratively with a number of companies in the highways industry including Highways England and when creating these videos, we wanted to produce something that complements its five-year Health & Safety Plan that ‘no one should be harmed when travelling or working on the strategic road network’ (SRN).
The ‘Safety In Mind’ films follow the story of a Kier roadworker and his family and in the first one we see one of our innovations, Mobile Barrier, preventing an accident from happening and the roadworker from being injured. The films then follow the roadworker and his family and look at the impact this accident has on him in his work and personal life. As the films progress we see his colleagues reaching out to him and helping him overcome these issues.
We worked closely with our Kier employees to make the films and while the main characters are actors, other people in the frame are from the Kier Highways workforce. The story is based on true events but isn’t an exact retelling. In the last year, we know of 16 incidents involving Kier employees & vehicles and as well as physical injuries, these events can have a huge impact on the mental health of our employees.
This series has been created to launch a Kier Highways-led health and wellbeing campaign to promote physical and mental health in the workplace. We took the decision to launch these at Christmas, because whilst it’s a happy fun time of year for a lot of people, it can also be the loneliest and hardest time of year for others and we thought with this in mind it would be a good time to start promoting these videos to an external audience through our social media channels.
We will continue to work with our employees to promote mental wellbeing in Kier Highways and further afield to our supply chain. We really need to work together to overcome this very real problem our industry is facing.”
Taking care of mental health in Kier Highways
We keep more than five million people on the move every day, by ensuring some of the UK’s busiest and most extensive road networks remain safe and operational.
• Number of employees: over 3,700
• Absence due to mental health issues: 4,250 days affecting 220 employees (2017)
• Number of mental health first aiders: 66
• Number of youth mental health first aiders: 10