University of Lincoln to Investigate Impact, Risks, and Costs of Stress in the Construction Industry

Work-related stress encountered by construction workers and the impact it has on performance, the risk of accidents, and costs to employers will be investigated thanks to a £25,000 research grant.

The funds have been awarded to a team from the University of Lincoln, to focus on the types and causes of occupational stress encountered by those in the construction industry.

The 2019/20 Occupational Health Research Award has been awarded by B&CE, a not-for-profit organisation founded by the construction industry in 1942, that offers workplace pensions, employee accident cover and employee life cover. It is now developing an occupational health product to improve the health of workers across the construction industry. The grant is part of the B&CE Charitable Trust.

According to the 2019 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication on work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, it is estimated that stress-related illness costs British industry £5 billion each year. HSE calculates that stress, depression or anxiety account for 44 per cent of all work-related ill health cases and more than half of all sick days in one year.

Dr Saad Sarhan and Professor Stephen Pretlove from the University’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment will carry out the study, Dr Sarhan, who has been working in the field for 14 years, said: “Several empirical studies have identified work-related stress as one of the root causes of unsafe behaviours in construction.

“Other major social problems such as high absenteeism, alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide have also become increasingly reported as consequent to occupational stress in construction. This is a timely study given that the UK regulations for managing occupational health have not been updated for many years in response to the rapid changes in the way we procure, design and deliver construction projects.”

B&CE’s Charitable Trust was set up in 1991 to give back to the construction industry by providing help for people working in construction in times of need, including grants towards education, financial support and retraining. It has given out more than £3.5 million in charitable donations.

The grant has been awarded for the past four years. Previous winning entries have included a study into musculoskeletal disorders in construction and a project with the aim of eliminating occupational health hazards at the construction design stage.

Roy Porter, spokesperson for the B&CE Charitable Trust, said: “We were very impressed by the high standard of entries to this year’s Occupational Health Research Award, but the winning entry really stood out. The Charitable Trust has been supporting the construction industry for the past three decades and we are acutely aware of the high levels of stress among workers in this sector.

“This is an exciting piece of research, one which we are confident will ultimately support large numbers of construction workers in the future.”