Procurement: firms to be quizzed on mental health safeguards

Framework provider Pagabo has committed to incorporate mental health safeguards into its procurement processes in a bid to improve the sector’s “less than perfect” track record on employee wellbeing.

The move was sparked by a report last month from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys, which recommended that more stringent mental health provisions on mental health should be written into construction contracts.

The group said details of contractors’ mental health provisions should be incorporated to help tackle a “national emergency” within the sector.

Pagabo group chief executive Gerard Toplass said that asking questions about mental health was one of the best ways of improving accountability among construction firms.

“During my time in the industry, I have never seen a contract clause with a specific reference to mental health in it – there are [clauses on] good practices and health and safety at work, but nothing on mental health,” he said.

“I think it’s a good idea to introduce a mental health narrative into all contracts so that all businesses within the supply chain are asked to demonstrate how they are looking after their people during projects.”

Toplass said that despite the industry’s “less than perfect” track record on mental health support, things were set to change, with senior professionals leading by example.

“At Pagabo we have the opportunity to champion change and set the standard by crafting high-quality questions to ensure the tender process is more competitive and mindful of staff wellbeing,” he said.

“We must be asking ‘how do you?’ and not just ‘do you?’ We can weight questions to help demonstrate to suppliers how important their answers are – the same way we already do with social value, for example.”

He said that different parts of the supply chain carried stress at different times, with those specialising in bidding and pre-construction service agreements exposed to stress that “could easily boil over” into more sustained mental health problems.

The Pagabo Foundation was on a mission to build mental health awareness within the industry, he said, and initiatives launched to date had been oversubscribed.

“All the signs are encouraging but there is no time to waste because people need support now,” he said.

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