The outward facing image of NZ men is one of strength, resourcefulness and the ability punch well above our weight. Think the All Blacks and Ed Hillary, number 8 wire and Rocket Lab. These are the kind of icons Kiwis are known for and identify with.

Our construction industry is full of men like this – strong, maybe silent, but almost certainly practical, capable and productive.

The tragic reality however is that Kiwi men in Construction are possibly the most vulnerable members of our workforce. With 13 fatalities last year alone, the New Zealand construction industry has hit a 10 year record. Per capita, we certainly punch above our weight on this score, surpassing Australia, UK and Ireland, with only the USA recording more fatalities than us.

With vehicle incidents and falls from height representing the vast majority causes of death, it was good to see that both these topics were addressed by the recent building industry seminars hosted by membership organization, Building Skills Maintenance (BSM).

The seminars, facilitated by BSM founder, Dion Tapper were delivered to around 4,000, predominantly male licensed building practitioners at 34 venues around the country late last year. The seminars included presentations around vehicle safety from AA Motoring and respiratory hazards from WorkSafe & Bosch. Easy Access delivered a presentation around staying safe and compliant at heights, presented via video by this Resident Builder.

The height safety video featured two of the newest products within the Easy Access range – the MOBI compact Scaffold Tower, and the AdjustaStep height adjustable platform ladder. Both provide new innovations to increase safety while maintaining efficiency onsite.

While all these presentations go a long way to help protect our builders from physical harm, the harm from mental health-related issues is also significant. For this reason I was so grateful to see this issue so passionately addressed at the BSM seminars by Dion Tapper himself.

With 300 suicides in the construction industry over the past 10 years, this is possibly the harshest health and safety issue our construction industry faces. I salute and support Dion for shining a light on this issue so we might keep our builders and related trades safe and well in both body and mind, keeping our industry strong, healthy and productive.