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Quarries participate in suicide prevention program

The Rock Solid suicide prevention pilot program is a joint initiative between industry support website Mining Family Matters and suicide prevention services provider Wesley LifeForce.

Earlier this year, through funding from the South Australian Government’s Mining and Quarrying Occupational Health and Safety Committee (MAQOHSC), the program was launched in SA to help the state’s quarrying and mining industries promote workers’ well-being, emotional resilience and suicide awareness in the workplace.

Mining Family Matters co-founder Alicia Ranford said that while there was no specific evidence about the rate of suicide among workers in the quarrying industry, it was clear that they were exposed to various risk factors.

“It’s a unique industry,” she told Quarry. “Quarry workers are often working long hours in hot, dry conditions and they often have to travel quite a distance to get to site. We wanted to make sure that we could provide information that was directly relevant to the industry and that suited their needs.”

Providing educational resources

Through a series of free interactive workshops that were attended by a total of nine companies – including two from the quarrying industry – Rock Solid educated both front-line managers and workers on simple, practical intervention strategies that could potentially reduce workplace stress and absenteeism, save lives and help eliminate the devastating impacts of losing a staff member to suicide.

The Rock Solid joint venture partners also developed additional resources that are available to SA workers at no cost, including worksite posters and a 32-page guidebook containing comprehensive information on the emotional well-being of workers and professional strategies to help workers keep their relationships strong and happy.

MAQOHSC executive officer Leonie Caldarelli said feedback indicated that the workshops had greatly increased participants’ knowledge and understanding about suicide, and where to find appropriate prevention resources.

“Most importantly, we found that the workshops significantly boosted the confidence of SA mine and quarry workers to identify suicidal behaviours, and to communicate appropriately with a suicidal person and conduct a suicide intervention,” she said.

Catering to quarries

Ranford said she had received a “very positive” response from the quarrying industry and that the quarrying companies that had attended had found the information “extremely relevant”. She added that the workshops had additionally provided valuable information on how the Rock Solid program could be modified to better cater to the quarrying industry.

“We were able to learn that the industry is in need of more information on not only suicide prevention but financial literacy and positive mental health,” she said. “We are developing a series of short workshops that can be supplied at toolbox meetings, shift change and to meet the needs of companies who cannot afford to have their workforce away from site for longer periods. When many quarries only have a handful of workers on-site we need to be practical in the amount of time they can spare.”

Mining Family Matters and Wesley LifeForce are now actively seeking support from industry to run similar programs in all other states.

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