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Taking health to the forefront of the industry’s agenda

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World Cement,

The British Safety Council’s Annual Conference ‘Health and work in a changing world’, held on 5 October 2016 at The King’s Fund in London, provided a platform for sharing evidence, best practice and experience of managing employee health and wellbeing.

The presentations and discussions centred on four main issues:

  1. Why should health be considered as a key business priority for a company?
  2. Who should be responsible for company’s health and wellbeing? What is the role of line managers in it?
  3. How can you make workplaces healthier, as well as helping employees to manage their own health throughout their working life?
  4. What is the best way of dealing with mental health issues?

Opening the conference, the British Safety Council’s Chair Lynda Armstrong remembered the charity’s founder, James Tye. “His vision in establishing the organisation in 1957 was to campaign towards a very simple objective – that no-one should be injured or made ill at work – and he worked tirelessly towards this aspiration throughout his life. James was a consummate marketeer. He didn’t shy away from publicity and his often controversial campaigning meant that he was regularly in the headlines.

“James’ campaigning was instrumental in the creation of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974. Back then, Britain was an industrial economy with manufacturing, mining and heavy manual work, resulting in a huge number of deaths and major accidents every year. The focus then was on identifying and mitigating physical and mechanical hazards. Over the following years, significant improvements were made.

“Now, there are far fewer deaths and serious injuries at work. This is due in part to the increased awareness of risk management, but is also a result of the changing nature of work. Britain is now a professional and service-based economy. As the number of accidents has decreased, we have become increasingly aware of the significance of health issues.

“This is not a new area for the British Safety Council. In 1979, James Tye established the British Wellness Council, but he was ahead of his time. The themes he was raising all those years ago are only now starting to gain traction with businesses.”

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