BOHS, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection, is delighted to announce Martin Coyd OBE as this year’s Warner Lecturer at their annual conference, OH2017. OH2017 (Occupational Hygiene 2017) is the UK’s premier international conference in the field of worker health protection, and this year is being held in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, from 24 to 27 April 2017.

Steve Perkins, CEO of BOHS, said “BOHS is proud to acknowledge that Shell is once more sponsoring the prestigious Warner Lecture at our conference. We are grateful that they continue to demonstrate their passion for, and commitment to, the culture of health in the workplace.”

Martin Coyd OBE, a leading health and safety professional in the construction sector, is Head of Health & Safety – Construction at Mace, and is a passionate advocate for mental health and wellbeing at work. In this year’s Warner Lecture, entitled State of Mind?, Martin will explain how it is possible to secure a safer and brighter future within and beyond the construction industry, simply by creating the best places to work and posing the question “What can we do to improve wellbeing and mental health?”.

Martin is a key supporter of Mates in Mind, a new programme launched by the Health in Construction Leadership Group and supported by the British Safety Council, which aims to help improve and promote positive mental health across the construction industry in the UK.

Asked for comment ahead of the Warner Lecture, Martin warned that some occupational groups are at far greater risk of suicide compared with the general employed population, or compared with other occupational groups. For example, figures indicate that the construction industry has a higher suicide rate than any other profession: with the worrying statistic that every two days, a construction worker commits suicide.

Indeed, construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a fall from height, and yet – as Martin points out – historically, the focus on fall prevention at work has been far greater than that of suicide prevention.

As a former soldier and with twenty years’ experience in the military overall, Martin is well aware of the challenges of discussing emotional wellbeing in traditionally tough, uncompromising environments. However, he remains passionate about fostering a culture of openness about mental health at work.

Martin said, “In some regions of the UK, construction workers account for 10% of all reported suicides. This is something that absolutely has to end, and one of the best ways to target this statistic directly and effectively is by setting mental health at the top of the agenda. On a positive note, the conversations are beginning to take place and recognition is starting to happen. People in the construction industry are showing interest in this area, with the result that I’m starting to see an appetite for change throughout sites and offices.”

Tracey Boyle, President of BOHS commented: “It’s encouraging to note that mental health in the workplace is being increasingly highlighted and discussed in many different arenas. This year’s Warner Lecture is a very relevant and timely subject: in early January, the Prime Minister Theresa May, wrote an article about a new approach to mental health,  and has also announced a package of measures to improve support for mental health – which extends to include workplaces.”

Tracey added: “Moreover, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) recently launched Health and Work strategy lists work related stress as one if its three top priorities. This is excellent news, as it will help further push work higher up everyone’s agenda. Statistics from the new strategy remind us that, shockingly, work related stress is the second most commonly reported cause of occupational ill health in the UK, and accounts for 37% of all work-related ill-health cases, and 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.”

Steve Perkins concluded, “The statistics mentioned above clearly demonstrate that mental health at work is everyone’s business, and if we are to improve the mental health and wellbeing of workers and reduce suicide rates, then it cannot be left solely to the mental health professionals – everyone in the workplace must play their part.“

Further information about how to book your place at OH2017 can be accessed at http://www.oh-2017.com/. For those interested in sponsorship and exhibiting, the available opportunities are listed at http://www.oh-2017.com/exhibition-and-sponsorship/.

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