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Eloise Henderson
Head of Strategic Communications
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M: 07741 384460

Blaise Tapp
Media Relations Manager
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Problems with workflow have been identified as the biggest source of stress in the construction industry, according to a newly-released academic study funded by B&CE’s Charitable Trust1.

The 18-month-long study2 which is one of the first to investigate sources of stress in UK construction projects, was conducted by researchers at the University of Lincoln after they were awarded the 2019/20 Occupational Health Research Award3 of £25,000 by the Trust. Details of the study’s findings come as the Trust announces the launch of the 2022 award.

The Trust wants to hear from UK-based organisations, such as charities, occupational health practitioners and accredited research organisations who have an idea that will:

  • Make a significant difference to the health-at-work of construction workers
  • Help tackle occupational health issues in construction
  • Help make an important scientific contribution to the construction industry

The University of Lincoln’s study identifies seven different sources of stress found within the nation’s construction industry and raises significant concerns regarding the use of the critical path method, which is extensively used in construction for project planning and control. The report, which is based on a series of interviews with people employed within the construction industry and a panel of experts, explains how this method is described by some subcontractors as “stressful, onerous, and ineffective.”

The study also highlights ‘single-stage competitive tendering based on cheapest price and shortest programme’ as a deeply rooted cause of stress in construction and it proposes the use of anonymous ‘stress-related card boxes’ in UK public-sector construction projects as a way of helping workers express their views confidentially.

Nicola Sinclair, of B&CE’s Charitable Trust, said: “The report really is an impressive piece of work and we are confident that this is a study that can really help both the construction industry and hundreds of thousands of workers overcome the blight that is stress and mental illness. We are delighted that the Occupational Health Research Award funding has been used in such an effective way and we hope that inspires other organisations and institutions to apply for the 2022 award.”

Dr Saad Sarhan, of the University of Lincoln and co-author of the report, said: “People working in construction are at particular risk from suffering from work-related stress and we are confident that this study provides important insight to a major problem that comes with too high a price. This piece of work wouldn’t have happened without the funding and invaluable support from the team at B&CE’s Charitable Trust.”

It’s estimated that stress-related illness costs British industry £5 billion each year, with the Health and Safety Executive calculating that stress, depression, or anxiety account for 44 per cent of all work-related ill health cases and more than half of all sick days in one year4.

Applications for the Occupational Health Research Award close at 5pm on Friday, January 21 2022. To apply visit here



  1. B&CE’s Charitable Trust was set up in 1991 to give back to the construction industry by providing help for people working in construction in times of need, including grants towards education, financial support and retraining. It has given out millions of pounds in charitable donations over the past 30 years. B&CE Group was established in 1942 by unions and federations with the intention of providing financial products for the construction industry. Today B&CE is perhaps best known for The People’s Pension, a leading workplace pension scheme with more than five million pension savers from over 95,000 employers and £16 billion assets under management. With no shareholders, it uses its profits to help people build financial foundations for life.
  2. A summary of the University of Lincoln’s report can be found here:
  3. B&CE’s Charitable Trust’s Occupational Health Research Award of £25,000 is given annually. This is awarded to a UK research institution in support of occupational health research that aims to make a significant difference to construction workers.
  4. The HSE published its Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2019 here