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Mental health questions added to tender documents

Halton Borough Council’s executive board has agreed that all future construction tender processes undertaken by the council will include a requirement for the main contractor to include a scored statement around mental health wellbeing among all staff and subcontractors.

Halton Borough, which includes the towns of Runcorn and Widnes on either side of the River Mersey, says it is the first council in the country to add mental health questions to tender documents.

It believes that it actions are “a major step in helping tackle mental health in the construction industry”.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 507 people working in the construction industry England and Wales took their own lives in 2021. This was an increase from 483 in 2020. This is more than 10 times the annual toll of construction’s fatal accidents.

Local authorities commission more than £18bn of construction work a year, so can exercise some control over working practices.

Halton Borough Council leader Mike Wharton said: “The suicide rates of young men working in construction are shockingly high and it’s time to do more. Asking contractors to consider the mental wellbeing of their staff, and making this a prerequisite of being awarded contracts, will help make inroads into the challenge of reducing the numbers of suicides and people experiencing mental health issues at work. We are the first council in the country to take this approach and I hope many more will follow.”

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