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ICBA launches wellness program to help prevent opioid deaths in construction

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With opioid overdoses at record levels in B.C., and people's mental health stretched thin by the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) is launching its new ICBA Workplace Wellness Program, designed to help employers and workers manage the unique mental health challenges facing the construction industry.

Statistics show that more than half the employed people who have died of opioid overdoses in B.C. in recent years worked in construction. And the risk of suicide for those working in construction is seven times the national average. While there are a lot of resources to help safeguard and improve mental wellness, not many of them are tailored to construction workplaces and workforces.

"Construction contractors and workers have much to be proud of in how effectively they've enhanced commitments to workers' physical safety in recent decades. Now, we must strive to create workplace cultures that foster all aspects of worker wellbeing," said Chris Gardner, ICBA president. "It is imperative that we break through the stigma surrounding mental health, educate workers about personal wellness, and give people the support and resources they need." 

The Workplace Wellness Program will be offered to ICBA member companies free of charge. "With the COVID-19 pandemic compounding B.C.'s mental health crisis, and resources tightening for many employers, we feel it is important to offer this new program free to every ICBA member construction company," said Gardner. 

ICBA's Workplace Wellness Program uses toolbox talk scripts, posters, short educational pieces, online check-ins, and virtual professional development courses, to address key wellness issues such as:

  • Mental health stigma
  • Respectful workplaces
  • Physical health
  • Pain avoidance and addictions
  • Suicide prevention
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Psychological safety in the workplace
  • Cancer awareness
  • Financial fitness

"The ICBA Workplace Wellness Program was developed specifically for the construction industry and designed to create lasting change," said Gardner. "It's holistic and comprehensive - a full year program, developed with the support of leading experts on mental health." 

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