Every year, suicide rates in the United States climb higher and higher. On average, there are 133 suicides per day and according to a study by the CDC, over 47,000 people in the United States died by suicide each year.

If we drill down specifically to the construction industry, the problem is even more pronounced. A recent study in January 2020 found that the rate of suicides in construction is the second highest in the country, at approximately 5,500 suicides each year. For every 100,000 construction workers, over 45 will end up committing suicide. This is compared to the national average of over 14, which means that a person working in construction is 3.5 times more likely to take their own life. In fact, construction workers are more likely to die by suicide than from any other cause of death except accidents on the job. 

So why are suicides so prevalent in the construction industry? And what can companies do to provide a safe environment for their employees? Let’s take a closer look at mental health awareness in the construction industry and some of the factors that contribute to the high suicide rate.  

Factors that contribute to the high suicide rate in the construction industry 

Construction work can be incredibly demanding, both mentally and physically. Long hours, tight deadlines, and exposure to dangerous working conditions can all take a toll on a person’s mental health. What’s more, construction workers are often reluctant to seek help for fear of being seen as weak or unable to handle the job. As a result, mental health issues often go unaddressed until they reach a crisis point. 

There are several other factors that contribute to the high suicide rate in the construction industry. For instance, employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs are more likely to experience negative mental health outcomes. Because of the nature of the work, many construction workers feel like they don’t have much control over their lives or their working conditions. This lack of control can lead to feelings of helplessness and despair. 

In addition to these workplace-related factors, some personal factors can contribute to an increased risk of suicide. For example, alcohol abuse is common among construction workers and has been linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Other risk factors include a history of depression or other mental illness, physical illness, financial stressors, relationship problems and a family history of mental illness or suicide. 

Steps to manage and prevent suicide in the workplace

While the reasons for suicide can be complex, there are steps that companies can take to help manage and prevent suicide in the workplace. First, companies need to learn about the warning signs of suicide. These can include changes in mood, withdrawal from social activities, talking about wanting to die and giving away personal belongings. If an employee shows any of these signs, it’s important to create an open and safe environment where they feel comfortable discussing their problems, while also encouraging them to seek professional help.

It’s also important to provide easy access to resources for employees and to create safety guides for dealing with mental health, including actions to take if someone appears to be in danger of harming themselves. By taking these steps, companies can create a culture of safety and support that can help reduce the incidence of suicide in the construction industry.

Creating a safe work environment

Companies can create a safe environment for employees by promoting open communication about mental health struggles, providing access to resources and professional help when needed, and encouraging employees to lean on each other for support without shame or judgment. By raising awareness and taking measures to prevent suicides, we can save lives in the construction industry.

Investing in employee mental health

RK values its employees and understands the importance of creating a work environment that is safe, physically and mentally. Safety is the number one core value at RK and mental health awareness is a big part of the culture whether you are on a jobsite or in the office. We encourage employees to check in with their teammates to let them know you care about their well-being and provide training to help them better understand when to seek help for themselves or their teammates.

Mental health and suicide prevention resources

For information on our Employee Assistance Program, you can call 1.800.327.1850 or visit guidanceresources.com. This is available 24/7 for confidential support.

Crisis Text Line

Text “Hello” to 741741

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

988 OR 1.800.273.8255 (English)

1.888.628.9454 (Espanol)

1.800.273.8255 (Deaf and Hard of Hearing)

Written by Ileana Morales

PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are thousands of chemicals belonging to a single chemical class. PFAS contaminants are found in drinking water as a result of industrial releases and the use of firefighting foam. However, PFAS may also be used in a wide range of products, from food packaging to stain-resistant furniture, and our exposure comes from multiple sources and routes. PFAS does not break down in the environment and moves through soil to drinking water, which is why many scientists refer to them as “forever chemicals.”

What products contain PFAS?

Everyday products may be made with PFAS compounds, such as:

• Clothing like raincoats, yoga pants, shoes and accessories
• Paper packaging, including microwave popcorn bags and takeout packaging
• Stain-resistant carpets, rugs and furniture
• Non-stick cookware
• Firefighting foams and ski wax

Exposure to PFAS is virtually everywhere, from food, air and water, resulting from manufacturing releases and use of PFAS-containing products. Fortunately, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been taking active steps to update drinking water health advisories to replace those issued in 2016. The updated advisories indicate that some adverse health effects occur with concentrations of PFAS in water near zero and below the EPA’s ability to detect. Essentially, the lower the level of PFAS chemicals, the lower the risk to public health.

In addition, EPA is encouraging states, drinking water utilities, and community leaders that find PFAS in their drinking water to inform residents, undertake additional monitoring to assess the level, scope, and source of contamination, and examine steps to reduce exposure. Individuals concerned about levels of PFAS in their drinking water should consider actions that may reduce exposure, including installing a home or point-of-use filter.

How to reduce PFAS contamination?

Under the State of Colorado’s guidance, over 100 communities are retesting drinking water to create dilution or treatment plans if PFAS levels are high. The EPA’s drinking water guidance for PFAS was formerly no more than 70 parts per trillion. However, in June 2022, the EPA’s guidance for two forms of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, was cut to 0.004 parts per trillion and 0.02 parts per trillion, respectively.

While the EPA has only proposed guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water, states across the country are implementing enforceable drinking water standards and pursuing litigation against manufacturers of PFAS chemicals for contaminating water supplies and other natural resources.

With more data being shared with government entities about PFAS contamination and states adopting more policies to protect their residents, restrictions will get more rigorous to help eliminate PFAS chemicals. Local governments, state governments and businesses need to work together to help protect those in their communities by taking proper action now.

PFAS Chemical Treatment and Disposal

RK Water has the knowledge and expertise to guide your business through treatment selection, system sizing and ongoing operation. As water treatments experts, RK Water will:  

• Perform initial PFAS sampling and testing through DOD certified laboratories
• Evaluate the characteristics of the PFAS requiring treatment
• Take into account site-specific conditions, sustainability of the treatment methods, and cost-effectiveness of viable treatment options
• Perform CAPEX vs. OPEX evaluation of competing treatment options
• Design and install temporary or long-term equipment, including treatment media
• Operate and maintain equipment and treatment systems, including media changeouts
• Compliance testing and reporting
• Manage disposal of media

The result is the reliable treatment of PFAS contamination to desired treatment goals. RK Water has you covered with in-house technical expertise. As RK Water is not committed to one proprietary product line, you are ensured that you will receive the best treatment options available in the market and client-focused attention throughout the process.

Learn more about RK Water’s PFAS treatment services.

Written by Ileana Morales

EPA Announces New Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFAS Chemicals, $1 Billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding to Strengthen Health Protections, accessed July 29, 2022, Environmental Protection Agency

Get the Facts: PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), accessed July 29, 2022, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

South Adams County water district is buying Denver’s water to dilute “forever chemicals,” accessed July 29, 2022, The Colorado Sun

Employers in the construction industry have their way of assessing employees to get the right candidate for employment. Equally, employees can evaluate prospective employers before taking a job. Choosing the right employer enhances your job satisfaction and reduces turnover. Here, we examine the qualities of good prospective employers to help you make informed decisions when looking for a job.  

Work-Life Balance

There is a general demand for a work-life balance cutting across all industries. Workers are now, more than ever, concerned about getting a perfect integration between work and personal life. Construction workers should consider working for companies that offer flexible working hours or schedules that provide a work-life balance. The potential employer should have innovative approaches to working hours rather than the conventional construction industry working hours. 

While the work environment may not meet all your demands, it should allow you to earn a consistent wage and still have time for other activities in your life.

Consistent Payment Frequency

The company you want to work for should have a consistent and preferably a weekly payment plan. When you get a company that pays weekly wages, you join the over 70% of construction workers who prefer a weekly payment frequency. In the weekly payment plan, you receive a paycheck every Thursday or Friday.

This payment frequency allows you to plan your expenditures and savings to meet your short and long-term goals. A weekly payment plan also allows you to receive prompt overtime payments and get the motivation to offer your best. 

Competitive Wages

Other than the consistency of the payments, the potential employer should offer competitive wages. A good starting point is to check the average weekly wage for construction workers in your region. In Colorado, the average weekly pay for construction workers is $617, while in New Mexico and Utah, the average weekly wage is $631. It is better to work for a construction company that pays above the average weekly wage. 

Potential for Overtime Opportunities

Besides the weekly wage, a good construction company will provide the opportunity for overtime. Overtime compensates you for hours worked beyond the stipulated working hours. The contract should specify the hourly rates and overtime rates. In most cases, overtime rates are higher than the hourly rates. Understanding the hourly rates allows you to estimate your total weekly wage.

Further, look for a company that pays you during your off days. When you get paid during your off days, you have time with your family and friends without compromising your weekly earnings. Off days also help reduce the risk of burnout and other mental health  issues common in the construction industry. Your prospective employer should also provide monetary and non-monetary incentives like bonuses and opportunities for growth.  

Tenured and Knowledgeable Trainers

Most construction workers want an employer that will help them improve their skills. When looking for a new employer, you should check their policy on employee training and the knowledge of the trainers. Receiving frequent training helps in;

Skill Development

Frequent training sessions help improve your skills and expand your knowledge in the field. The training opens doors for new opportunities and career advancement. Moreover, the training helps you equip yourself with current standards of operations and technology in the construction industry. Lack of training opportunities increases employees’ risk of obsolescence and redundancy.

Increased Self-confidence  

Training helps improve your confidence to take more challenging roles and increases the chances of promotion.

Better Job Satisfaction

Training enhances your interpersonal skills, which leads to job satisfaction. Learning how to resolve conflicts, for instance, helps you to improve the relationship between you and your colleagues. 

Relocation Compensation

Although most employers do not pay relocation compensation for newly employed workers, you can still get one that pays. Employers who pay relocation allowances to new employees do so to attract talent. If you get an opportunity to work for such a company, you could have a high chance of advancing your career as the employer values your talent.

Good Online Reviews

Through platforms like online directories, Google listings, and social media sites, former and current employees provide reviews about their employers. The online reviews aid in making informed decisions on whether to send a job application or not.

Safety Policy

Employee safety is an essential element of the construction industry. When looking for an employer, your safety should be a priority. The prospective employer should provide safe working conditions and install sound measures to mitigate the risks of accidents. Reading your employer’s safety policy offers insight into the general working condition. A safe working environment also reduces the risk of mental health  issues like suicide in the construction industry.

Want to Assess a Prospective Employer? Contact Us

RK understands your desire to work for an employer who will give you a work-life balance, safe working environment, competitive wages, and training opportunities. If you are looking for a career with a company that provides all of this and more, consider applying for a job with RK!

Steel is the backbone of innovation and economic growth for most of this country’s infrastructure. Beginning in the 19th century, technological advances started making the production of steel cheaper while also improving the quality of the product, helping fuel the growth of American cities, railroads, bridges, and factories. With technological advances making it stronger and even lighter, steel is necessary to build future infrastructure.

Steel is a common and important building material because of the benefits it adds to a structure. It offers high strength durability, performance, flexibility, reduced weight, configuration adaptability and safety. It is also sustainable and cost-effective.

Benefits of Steel in Construction

Steel has not changed much since the 19th century. The reliability of the product is what makes it essential to construction. Steel is known for its strength, durability and efficiency because it can handle the wear and tear of outdoor environments. In addition, structures made from steel have longevity and require little maintenance. Another benefit of steel is that it does not need excessive space to support a structure, allowing for slender columns and better space usage.

Computer machinery has also made an impact on efficiencies in the steel industry. Prefabricated steel sections can be quickly produced in off-site fabrication shops, providing dimensional accuracy and ensuring that the steel used is the right size and density.

Steel can be shaped, cut and molded to fit different designs, making its versatility vital for all types of construction. In addition, it is one of the most sustainable construction materials due to its ability to be reused and recycled without experiencing any downgrade. Steel reduces the usage of nonrenewable minerals and does not require excessive energy or the use of harmful products. The recycling of automobiles, refrigerators and toasters, to name a few, has allowed steel to increase its overall strength and toughness, providing better resistance to heavy loads. The elements found in these products can include copper, titanium, nickel, chromium and manganese. When combined, it produces alloy steel, resulting in highly resistant properties against corrosion.

Test of Time

Steel can be installed anytime, regardless of the weather, which means projects can remain on schedule. In addition, the prefabrication of steel allows for dimensional accuracy, easy installations and efficiencies in reducing construction waste.

In addition, it is easier to modify steel buildings to accommodate new applications and vertical expansions. Engineers can effortlessly strengthen existing beams or add to existing steel-framed structures. Steel modifications can be done without the need to vacate premises, making steel construction ideal because it reduces costs and allows business to continue as usual.

RK Steel is the heart of many of RK’s construction projects. RK’s foundational knowledge in construction paired with RK Steel’s expertise in fabricating and installing structural steel, custom steel, metal products and miscellaneous metals, results in best-in-class projects.

Written by Ileana Morales

How Steel Can Improve Sustainability in Construction, accessed May 10, 2022, Nearby Engineers

Made in America: The Past, Present, and Future of the Steel Industry, accessed May 10, 2022, Boyd Metals

Pros and Cons of Using Steel in Construction Projects, accessed May 10, 2022, BuilderSpace.com

What is Safety Week?

Construction Safety Week started in 2014 with 40 national and global construction firms from the Construction Industry Safety Initiative (CISI) group and the Incident and Injury Free (IIF) CEO Forum. The goal is to inspire everyone in the industry to be leaders in safety by sticking to the following guidelines:
• Thank workers for supporting safety and recognizing their efforts to be injury-free
• Increase awareness of the importance of being committed to safety, every day
• Encourage everyone to share best practices and to work together to strengthen the industry’s safety culture
• Conduct onsite safety awareness activities to support education

Safety Week aims to strengthen the industry’s safety culture and performance by sharing best practices, tools and resources.

Connected. Supported. Safe.

This year, the Construction Safety Week forum theme is “Connected. Supported. Safe.” Being connected gives workers a collective sense of strength because they are building a stronger, more robust, safer industry together. Supported means fellow colleagues are helping each other stay present and focused on the job, regardless of the role or workplace setting. It means the industry as a whole is equipped with the resources and support they need to work safely every day. Safety is a priority and obligation for all frontline workers. It is a shared responsibility to look after the well-being and safety of everyone on every jobsite, which empowers everyone to do their best work and return home safely every day.

Fall Protection: A Top Priority

The OSHA National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction will also be held during this same week, raising fall hazard awareness across the country to stop fall fatalities and injuries. Falls are the top cause of construction fatalities and account for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S., more than 200 construction workers are killed, and over 10,000 are seriously injured by falls.

RK and HSE Department Promote Safety Week

RK, under the direction of the HSE Department, is participating in Construction Safety Week by focusing on fall prevention and onsite safety across all business units. The goal of this week is to build up awareness to prevent fall injuries from roofs, ladders and leading edges by
encouraging every RK employee to:
• PLAN ahead to get the job done safely.
• UTILIZE safety resources when planning.
• PROVIDE the right equipment.
• TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely.

Construction Safety Week allows the industry to reengage workers to remember the importance of safety. Each year there is a theme or specific topic, however, safety must be practiced everyday. The Focus Four are four leading hazards in the construction industry: falls, caught in or between, struck by, or electrocution. Being trained and recognizing these hazards can help prevent work-related accidents and possible fatalities.

RK’s number one core value is safety and empowers employees to take responsibility for their safety and for those working alongside them. The company’s number one priority is always ZERO injuries.

RK is proud to be accredited as an OSHA VPP Star Worksite and OSHA VPP Star Mobile Workforce, ranking in the 0.03% of U.S. companies with VPP certification at any level and as the 53rd U.S. company to earn Star Mobile Workforce status.

Written by Ileana Morales

Connected.Supported.Safe., accessed April 28, 2022, Construction Safety Week

Construction Focus Four Training, accessed April 28, 2022, OSHA

National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, accessed April 28, 2022, OSHA

Voluntary Protection Programs, accessed April 28, 2022, OSHA

Why is corporate philanthropy important?

Businesses of all sizes and industries can impact the communities surrounding them by having corporate philanthropy programs. These are investments and activities that a company voluntarily gets involved with to account for its social impact, including financial investments, product donations, in-kind services, and volunteerism.

The impacts that philanthropy offers a company, its employees, and society are invaluable. For local organizations, grants, financial support and volunteer hours can help provide supplies, resources and manpower that otherwise would go unfunded. These benefits can help strengthen the community with more opportunities for residents and boost the local economy.

Employee morale and recruitment efforts can also be bolstered through a company’s philanthropic programs. When a company shows that it cares about the community and emphasizes a sense of giving, employees and job seekers can feel that they are or can be part of something bigger beyond the typical scope of work. People are also passionate about serving others, and some companies even offer employee funds that provide monetary funding to colleagues who are going through unforeseen financial burdens.

How companies can get involved

Consequently, when a company has philanthropic programs and is well established, the local community, clients and potential customers can have a positive perception of the company. This positive image encourages community members to utilize the company’s services over a competitor who is not as involved with the community and helping others.

Examples of how small-to-mid-sized business support their communities:

  • Give to local charities: 66% 
  • Support youth organizations: 48% 
  • Donate to local first responders: 42% 
  • Aid local service groups (Rotary Club, Scouts, etc.): 37% 
  • Donate food or volunteer in soup kitchens: 32%

Regardless of the size of a company, businesses can incorporate giving and philanthropy through several different options.

Community Grants: Surrounding community organizations can apply to a company with a community grant program explaining how the grant would support their mission, or the company itself initiates community grants.

Volunteer time off: Volunteer time off is employer-sponsored paid time off to do volunteer work, allowing employees to take a day away from work to contribute to non-profit efforts.

Matching gifts: Companies with matching gift initiatives match the employee’s dollar amount of funds to eligible charities and non-profits.

About RK

RK Industries (RK) is the parent company of seven wholly-owned subsidiaries focused on construction, manufacturing, fabrication and building services. It operates four manufacturing and fabrication facilities in the greater Denver area and has helped construct some of the most prominent buildings shaping the Denver skyline. For close to 60 years, RK has had the privilege of supporting numerous nonprofits and charities that improve the quality of life in the community and the quality of life for its employees. Today, RK continues its proud tradition of philanthropy through the RK Foundation and RK Cares.

RK Foundation

Established in 2011, the RK Foundation allocates grant funding and supports employee volunteer hours to local nonprofits and causes that align with our three focus areas: community development, education, and health. The RK Foundation is funded by recycling all of the scrap metal produced at RK’s four shop facilities, construction projects, and service sites. All proceeds are directed to the RK Foundation, supporting community organizations in a unique and sustainable funding model.

Community Development: RK believes in the power of individuals, groups, and businesses working together to strengthen the communities in which its employees and clients live and work. It seeks to support organizations that innovate and generate tangible solutions to issues affecting communities in the Rocky Mountain region.

Education: Quality education systems are the foundation for successful businesses and communities and are a key driver of disrupting so many families’ poverty cycles. We have a strong connection to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and a passion for developing career technical education and pathways for the skilled trades. Our purpose is to invest in various educational pathways that allow a diverse workforce to flourish. We respect and admire 501(c)(3)s that are relentless in their pursuit of delivering better quality solutions.

Health: Healthy stakeholders and communities are a priority and a driving force behind our giving. RK supports health initiatives in the local communities and focuses on employee wellness, physically and mentally. RK places special emphasis on funding mental health awareness, suicide prevention and men’s health initiatives.

RK Cares

RK Cares serves as RK’s philanthropic and corporate citizenship arm, overseeing employee engagement and community outreach efforts. Throughout the year, RK Cares organizes various volunteer opportunities for RK employees, their families, and friends. Volunteer events include packing food at local food banks, mobile blood drives, making blankets, wrapping holiday presents for kids in need, and assembling care packages for deployed military members, to name a few. RK Cares volunteers regularly log around 400 hours during the group volunteer activities on an annual basis.

In 2019, the RK Cares Foundation was formally established to oversee the new employee hardship fund program, the HERO Fund. The HERO Fund empowers our team to help one another reduce the burden when unexpected emergencies occur. It is an emergency relief fund that is a resource for RK employees and their immediate family members when they experience financial hardships such as medical emergencies, the death of a family member, and loss of housing or transportation due to unexpected circumstances. RK employees donate collectively to support co-workers and their families to help each other recover and rebuild.

RK is proud to support its communities and the health and well-being of its employees. It is a company that understands that helping others is part of its business model. Providing support outside its typical project initiatives is a way for RK to give back and be a helping hand through the power of its financial and employee volunteer resources.

Written by Ileana Morales

10 Year Impact Report, accessed April 8, 2022

Corporate Philanthropy: Definition and Benefits, accessed April 8, 2022, Indeed

RK Cares Hero Fund: An Employee Compassion Fund, accessed April 8, 2022, RK Industries

The Importance of Corporate Philanthropy, accessed April 8, 2022, CHRON.

What is Corporate Philanthropy?, accessed April 8, 2022, Selflessly

Over the last few years, the construction industry has seen an increase in female employees in the field and the office. Men have typically dominated the industry. However, women are breaking down barriers and finding ways to close the gender gap.

The industry offers many opportunities for women. From working on a jobsite or in a shop, to supervising staff, leading departments, or running their own construction companies, women are essential contributors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the construction industry will add about 400,000 new jobs from 2020-2030, which will allow for growth and advancement for anyone seeking a career in the industry.

Despite the vast opportunities the construction industry offers, many companies worry about the ongoing labor shortage issues. Many people on the field are reaching retirement age, and there’s a deficit of young skilled workers ready to take their place. In addition, construction firms compete with other rising industries like healthcare, technology and engineering for younger workers. Trade-specific apprenticeship programs are finding creative ways to connect younger generations to career paths outside of the four-year college route and helping K-12 schools promote it with programs like welding and infusing STEM with construction education.

Women can take on any role in the construction industry and hold titles like architect, administrator, or project manager. Whether they’re wearing a hard hat or keeping things running behind the scenes, women bring value to the jobsite and the office with fresh perspectives. However, they are underrepresented in trade and executive positions. Statistics show that just under 87% of women working in construction hold office positions, and only about 2.5% of tradespeople are women. Women also only make up about 14% of staff executive and 7% of line executive positions.

Organizations like Transportation & Construction Girl are taking the lead in reaching young women before their last few years in high school to demonstrate the value they can have in the industry. As the construction industry looks for solutions to the growing workforce shortage problem, recruiting women appears to be one of the most viable and necessary to ensure long-term industry progress. 

RK takes pride in fostering an environment that encourages men and women alike to learn from one another and strive for excellence in their craft, whether in the shop, a jobsite or in the office. The future is bright for young men and women looking to pursue a career in construction!

Written by Ileana Morales

How Women in Construction are Breaking Barriers in 2021, accessed March 4, 2022, Buildertrend

Women in Construction, accessed March 4, 2022, New England Institute of Technology

Women in Construction: The State of the Industry in 2022, accessed March 4, 2022, BigRentz, Inc.

How to Adapt to the Skilled Labor Shortage in Construction, accessed March 4, 2022, Propeller Aero

Workplace culture has never been more important. After an uncertain few years, people are seeking employment at businesses that offer robust programs to support them outside of the standard benefits packages. Employers must be creative to be competitive in hiring top talent. Integrating philanthropy into a company’s culture can have many benefits and is linked to higher levels of employee happiness, collaboration and innovation. Current and prospective employees are looking for organizations to go beyond the paycheck and get behind social issues. Creating a value-based company can prove to be more resilient to withstand crises like pandemics, disasters, and social unrest because its values keep it anchored in challenging times.

Focusing on causes that employees care about can increase engagement level and connection to the company. Furthermore, people are passionate about serving others they see in their daily lives, so organizations can connect that natural human instinct to create an employee fund that inspires colleagues to help each other with unforeseen financial burdens.

The construction industry is one of the most dangerous fields to work in. Unexpected events can happen on a jobsite, causing injury and possible death. At RK, safety is the number one value, which is infused companywide from field workers to office employees and even their families. However, there are situations that one cannot control. After a cluster of accidents and severe injuries, RK formed a charter committee to research corporate hardship funds and established a 501(c)(3), RK Cares Foundation. By establishing the foundation as a 501(c)(3), funds are granted to individual employees tax-free.

The RK Cares HERO Fund, a grant program from the RK Cares Foundation, was started to encourage RK employees to help one another. It is an emergency relief fund that is a resource for RK employees and/or their immediate family members when they experience financial hardships such as medical emergencies, the death of a family member, and loss of housing or transportation due to unexpected circumstances. RK employees donate collectively to support co-workers and their families to help each other recover and rebuild.

HERO
H – Helping
E – Employees
R – Rebuild, Recover, Restore, Renew, Repair, Reduce, Rally, Return and….
O – Overcome

Since 2019, the RK Cares HERO Fund has granted $106,600 to over 50 employees or their immediate families. In 2021 alone, over $60,000 was granted to RK employees in need. After an initial $25,000 grant from the RK Foundation, the HERO Fund has been entirely funded by employee payroll donations and internal fundraisers. The breakdown of assistance is:

The goal is to continuously increase employee awareness of the HERO Fund and promote a company based on values and mutual support for one another. Ultimately, people make a company great, and it is important to show that they are not alone when they need a helping hand.

“I wish to thank RK Cares for the generous grant, which was a big help in my life following the sudden death of my wife and being out of work due to my own medical problem. Many thanks to all the contributors of the HERO Fund.”

Douglas

“Thank you so much to everyone that made the HERO Fund possible. I am very grateful for the help following a house fire where I lost almost everything.”

Rodrigo

The RK Cares HERO Fund is a corporate social responsibility program of RK. The HERO Fund is part of the RK Cares Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3), that oversees RK’s philanthropic efforts, as well as employee and community outreach and engagement.

Written by Ileana Morales

 Any Company Can Make Giving Back a Part of its Culture. Here’s How., accessed February 22, 2022, Operator Collective 

How to Make Giving Back Part of Your Company Culture, accessed February 22, 2022, Utah Business

Some of the leading causes of death in the construction industry are falls and electrocution. But a lesser-known leading cause is suicide. In fact, the industry has one of the highest suicide rates compared to other industries — in 2016, the suicide rate for men was 49.4/100,000, which is almost twice the total suicide rate for civilian working men in 32 states. Research is still needed to know why exactly this is the case. However, possible factors include the job strain and long work hours associated with construction.

There are already institutions that are ready to support the industry and give direct help to construction workers in need. But there are a few things you can also do inside your company to protect your workers’ mental health. Below are some of them:

Make the workplace a safe space

Mental health and the workplace are closely related — unhealthy working conditions will affect an employee’s mental health. This can change their attitude and behavior, which will also affect their work and relationships with their coworkers, adding to the negative atmosphere. As such, it’s important to create a healthy work environment in the first place. Some things you can do are give stress management training for high-risk jobs, improve senior leadership engagement, and perform regular well-being checks. It would also be a good idea to openly discuss mental health in the workplace to show workers that they can ask for support if they need it. You should have zero tolerance for bullying as well.

Watch out for warning signs

The construction industry has many occupational hazards — from collapsing trenches causing serious injuries and death, to the prolonged use of handheld power tools that can cause hand-arm vibration syndrome — so it’s natural to pay attention to decreasing the risk of physical injury. However, other workplace-related health conditions can also include psychological injuries. Some factors that can negatively affect a worker’s mental health are workplace conflict and bullying. Psychological injuries are harder to spot than physical injuries, but it becomes easier with time. Some warning signs include a decrease in productivity, tardiness, isolation from coworkers, and an increase in conflict with coworkers. Once you notice these signs in a worker, you should immediately respond to them to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Provide resources

The stigma around mental health can make it difficult for people to seek help. Because of this, it would be a good move to provide everyone with resources and tools to manage mental health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a list of resources, which includes how to start a conversation on mental health in the industry and tips for dealing with stress. You can also include counseling and other mental health services in your employees’ benefits package. Alongside this, offering mental health days or flexible work hours makes it easier for them to attend therapy or medical appointments.

Offer first-aid training for mental health

It’s also important to train team leaders and workers to spot warning signs and offer the right kind of help. AT RK, mental health training is offered to the human resources and safety staff, which teaches its professionals how to assess the risk of harm, listen with no judgment, give reassurance, and encourage colleagues to seek professional help and support strategies.

Article written by Robbie Joanne

For the exclusive use of rkindustries.com

Men in the construction industry account for the majority of suicides in the workforce. The social pressures on men to suppress their feelings encourage workers to suffer in silence. A webinar hosted by Caterpillar Inc., “Mental Health on the Jobsite,” explains that the tough-guy mentality that exists in the industry and the ideals of self-sufficiency that draw people to this type of work are the same personality traits that create a high-risk culture where people are unable or unwilling to seek treatment for mental health conditions.

The construction industry is also known to have volatile working conditions like long hours and constant job relocation, which can result in poor connections to family and friends. In addition, the physical demands and feelings of isolation on the job can lead to self-medication through alcohol, drugs or opioids, which increases the likelihood of suicide.

Lastly, during the height of COVID-19, layoffs and seasonal work increased while the industry balanced itself between health and economic security. The added stress of unemployment can create an unprecedented amount of insecurity that affect emotional and mental health.

Importance of Mental Health on the Jobsite

Mentally healthy workers are important for a construction jobsite because it reinforces the safety and well-being of a crew. A happy and healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. Some of the key signs of mental distress are lethargy, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating or absenteeism. By advocating for mental health and wellness on the jobsite, crew members are more likely to feel supported and stay in the workforce, encouraging others to look into the construction industry as a career option.

Understanding Mental Health

Mental health is an ongoing balancing act and does not always have to be related to illness. Negative mental health can be due to personal loss, financial issues, relationship problems, etc. and can affect a person’s mental well-being and ability to concentrate. Risky environments, operating dangerous heavy equipment, distractions or an inability to focus puts workers and the public at risk.

Creating environments where people feel comfortable sharing what is happening their lives can empower fellow coworkers to check in on their crewmates, therefore building a safer workspace for themselves and others.

Management as an Advocate for Change

Management has a responsibility for the overall well-being of its employees. Encouraging everyone to be aware of their surroundings and environments is the first step in creating a sense of belonging and community. In the construction industry, shifting the culture from one of discipline to one with consideration for employee mental health and well-being can be a key area to help push workers toward seeking help. By listening, showing compassion and empathy, and being prepared to offer resources, leaders and employees can support each other to prevent suicide and seek help.

List of What to Watch for on a Jobsite:

What people are saying

What people are doing

What’s going on in their lives

We Need to Talk About Suicide in the Construction Industry, accessed September 4, 2021, For Construction Pros