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Ford Highlights Mental Safety Measures

Make it Visible Ford
31 May 2022
 

Ford has teamed up with the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity to “Make it Visible”, a new high-visibility campaign using “higher-viz” safety vests to grab attention and point people in the direction of help when needed.

The UK’s commercial vehicle leader is stepping in to help combat the issue, with as many as two construction workers lost to suicide every day, according to the Office for National Statistics. Despite wellbeing remaining an ongoing concern for workers, CIPD research suggests that mental health is beginning to slip down the business agenda amongst senior leaders. A new report from the CIPD and Simplyhealth, “The Health and Wellbeing at Work 2022”, surveyed 804 HR professionals, representing more than 4.3 million employees.

 

"For too long, the construction and infrastructure industry has treated mental health as the poor cousin of physical health. We must change this incredibly outdated perception."

 

– Heather Bryant
Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability Director,  Balfour Beatty

 

What About Mental Safety Measures?

 

Despite extensive physical safety measures taken to protect on-site workers, construction workers in the UK and Ireland are taking their own lives, unaware of the help and support available. 40 per cent of employees in the construction and engineering sector took time off work due to poor mental health in 2019, compared to 35 per cent across all sectors, with workers absent for between two and five days on average, costing UK businesses an estimated 40 million individual days of work across all sectors.

Furthermore, more than a third of employees in the architecture, engineering and construction sector would not talk to their employer if they were experiencing a health issue, having a detrimental impact on business performance and culture, according to not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.

Working with the Lighthouse Club, and construction contractors Balfour Beatty, Ford seeks to actively promote wellbeing awareness amongst its van customers.

With Ford accounting for almost one in three new commercial vehicles sold throughout 2021 - and higher into the construction industry - putting mental safety on an equal footing with physical safety on building sites is an important step for this group of customers. By helping to make the support more visible, more workers will be able to seek assistance from available resources.

“This campaign is hugely important to Ford and highlights the importance of mental wellbeing alongside physical wellbeing on the construction site”, said Mandy Dean, director, commercial vehicles, Ford of Britain and Ireland. “As the UK’s best-selling commercial vehicle brand, it is likely the majority of construction workers are also Ford customers and operators, so we feel we have a duty to support them, through this partnership with the Lighthouse Club, raising awareness and getting support to those in need of it.”

 

Succeeding “Elephant in the Transit”

 

The “Make it Visible” campaign follows on from Ford’s “Elephant in the Transit” launch from 2018, building awareness of male suicide and promoting the front seats of a vehicle as a safe space to talk.

This latest initiative sets out to provide counsellors a means to get to construction sites, with onsite posters matching the vest’s colours. These posters will direct workers to a safe place to talk off-site, so more can seek help easily.

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be partnering with Ford to deliver the “Make it Visible” campaign.

“These highly distinguishable vans, will be visiting sites across the country to deliver visible support to the boots on the ground workforce. The vehicles are manned by the Lighthouse Club’s on-site team who are all Mental Health First Aiders with relatable experiences in the construction industry. I am convinced that this initiative will have a positive impact on workforce wellbeing and ultimately save lives.”

 

Opening the Campaign

 

The “Make it Visible” campaign kicked off at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show in Birmingham, supported by a fully liveried Transit Custom in matching high-visibility tones. In attendance on the Ford stand for launch day were construction contractors, Balfour Beatty, a key supporter of the initiative, who were involved in piloting the scheme on one of their sites in London.

Heather Bryant, Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability Director at Balfour Beatty, said: “For too long, the construction and infrastructure industry has treated mental health as the poor cousin of physical health. We must change this incredibly outdated perception – at Balfour Beatty, we are continuing to lead the charge.

“The “Make it Visible” campaign helps to build on the work we have done with the charity Mates in Mind, by specifically helping us to reach those, including our valued supply chain partners, who may not be aware of the resources available to them whilst also providing a dedicated, safe space to talk.”

 

Picture: the "Make it Visible" Ford Transit. Image credit: Ford.

Article written by Bailey Sparkes | Published 31 May 2022

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