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The British Safety Council launches mental wellbeing videos

AHEAD of Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May), it is still true to say that mental health is considered the poor relation of physical health. Too many people are suffering in silence while at work.

The British Safety Council is urging employers to make changes in the workplace that address mental wellbeing and is offering employees practical tools to help them deal with stress and anxiety at work.

The charity is launching three videos to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. They are based on tried-and-tested wellbeing techniques and exercises that encourage staff to relax in order to alleviate racing thoughts associated with stress and anxiety. They also encourage physical activity at work.

Matthew Holder, Head of Campaigns at the British Safety Council, said: “Emotional resilience is important because it improves effectiveness at work. However, it also helps people gain greater immunity from certain illnesses. By making these exercises part of their daily routine, employees should be able to improve their wellbeing and resilience to stress.”

A breathing exercise aims to control stress and anxiety with the help of breathing, by slowing the overall activity of the brain and relaxing both the mind and the body.

A visualisation exercise is intended to release tension and improve concentration. Visualisation exercises combined with deep breathing are proven to reduce stress and relax the body, giving the person a moment of peace in the hectic work environment.

Chair exercises include shoulder, leg, feet and stomach exercises for relaxing various parts of the body that stiffen and ache as we spend long periods of time at our desks. The modern sedentary lifestyle is responsible for an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and a loss of muscle and bone strength.

Matthew Holder continued: “The British Safety Council’s wellbeing videos are intended as a practical resource to help employees look after their wellbeing and deal with the pressures of everyday working life. We hope that they will become a part of the lunchtime routine, accessed in bite-size chunks and used when required.

“Workers’ wellbeing is a shared responsibility between employers and employees and a true reflection of organisational culture. For workers to practice wellbeing and mindfulness at work, they must be supported by their organisations, their senior leadership and by line managers. Our videos feature simple wellbeing exercises, which do not require any infrastructure investment from employers. However, workers’ ability to use them in the workplace is likely to be proof of employers’ commitment to their workers’ health and wellbeing.”

Recognising that mental ill health is affecting society from an early age, this spring the government launched pilot schemes in 370 primary and secondary schools. They are designed to test different approaches to improving children’s mental health. The trial will teach students mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises to help them “regulate their emotions” and deal with “the pressures of the modern world.”

The British Safety Council’s vision is that no-one should be injured or made ill through their work. The charity recognises that great progress has been made in Britain on addressing safety issues, but there is still significant work to be done on wellbeing and health, particularly when it comes to mental health.

Last year, using its training expertise, the British Safety Council, launched a range of mental health training courses. The courses are designed to start conversations about mental health and support employees who are experiencing mental ill-health. These courses are now available in both classroom and online formats.

In November 2018, acknowledging the growing importance of workplace wellbeing and the numerous uncertainties around it, the British Safety Council published a report Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work. It defines wellbeing in the workplace and suggests a set of metrics for effectively measuring wellbeing programmes and interventions.

In 2017, the British Safety Council helped to launch Mates in Mind. Mates in Mind provides a joined-up approach for employers when addressing mental health. It is now working with 210 organisations to support more than 188,000 employees.

British Safety Council International Safety Awards 2017

Awards for exceptional commitment and dedication to workplace health and safety

British Safety Council announces International Safety Award 2017 sector winners and health and safety champions

Lynda Armstrong OBE, Chair of Trustees, and Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, announced the names of the organisations which have been judged best in sector at the 2017 International Safety Awards Gala Dinner, held at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on 5 May 2017.

The names of the individual winners of the Health and Safety Champion and Young Health and Safety Champion were also revealed. 

Congratulating all the winners of the 2017 International Safety Awards, Lynda Armstrong said: “We are here tonight to celebrate the achievements of 535 winning organisations from across the globe, who have demonstrated to our panel of judges their commitment to keeping their employees healthy and safe. Our warmest congratulations to the award winning organisations and those shortlisted for the Sector and Champions Awards.

“Throughout its 60-year history, the British Safety Council has played a significant role in changing attitudes about the importance of managing risks, both at work and outside. Whether through our campaigns on seat belts, lobbying for a comprehensive legal framework for health and safety or the training of thousands of managers and workers, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we have helped save thousands of lives.

“However, we would not have seen these improvements if over the years the businesses hadn’t stepped up to make a difference. Our awards have always been our chance to say thank you for their hard work and to recognise their commitment to keeping people healthy and safe.”

Now in their fifth year, the Health and Safety Champion and Young Health and Safety Champion Awards recognise exceptional individual performance of people who have played a significant role in keeping their work colleagues safe and healthy. For the Health and Safety Champion of the Year Award, organisations nominate employees aged 25 or over. The Young Health and Safety Champion of the Year Award is given to workers aged 16-24.

The Health and Safety Champion award went to Kieren McCafferty, Walker Construction, Kent, while the highly commended award in this category was presented to Stephen Wilkinson, Addison Lee, London.

The winner of the Young Health and Safety Champion award was Sophie Harwood, Waldeck Consulting, whilst the highly commended award was presented to Tom Arkley, Willmott Dixon Interiors Ltd

Those International Safety Award winning organisations that were considered by the panel of judges as outstanding in their respective sectors were honoured with the Sector Awards. This year, the Sector Awards went to the following companies:

Construction and Property Services – L&T Construction TI IC/Kannur International Airport Limited Site

Financial, IT, legal, scientific, technical services and media – Honeywell Technology Solutions Lab Pvt. Ltd.

Hospitality and catering Arsenal Football Club

Local Government, Defence and Public Services – Dubai Municipality – Health and Safety Department

Manufacturing – Kuwait National Petroleum Company – Shuaiba Refinery

Oil, gas, mining and quarrying – Bahrain National Gas Company

Power and utilities Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd

Transportation, distribution and storage – Unipart Rail

Wholesale and retail services – Majid Al Futtaim.

In his closing remarks, Mike Robinson described the key new initiatives which the British Safety Council has launched in its 60th anniversary year. “We’re widening our sphere of influence, taking on the risks associated with today’s changing world. The British Safety Council has always been an international organisation and for over thirty years we‘ve been working in the Indian market. This year we’re taking our commitment to the next level by opening an office in Mumbai. India has its own space programme but it’s also a country where very high numbers of workers are killed or injured every year. We will be helping to address this disparity.

“I am also very proud that the British Safety Council, together with the Health in Construction Leadership Group, have launched Mates in Mind, a new charity that aims to improve the mental health of the 2.1 million construction workers in the UK. Addressing the link between work, mental health and wellbeing is the challenge for risk management in the 21st century. That is why the British Safety Council is clear that the construction sector is only the starting-point for this initiative not the end-point.

“The third area in which we have been embracing change is the digital world. The world in which we live today is very different to that of sixty years ago. We’ve been embracing these changes and I’m delighted to be able to showcase for the first time tonight our new website. We intend this to be the go-to digital home for everything you’ll ever need to know about health and safety. We’ll be using this new site as one of our main vehicles to educate, inform and drive public awareness. It has been developed in collaboration with our members and it will incorporate the digital tools and data which they told us they need.  Therefore, we are confident that it will enable us to increase our profile as a leading health, safety and environmental organisation, both in the UK and globally.”

British Safety Council launches a special offer to support small organisations and charities

The British Safety Council has launched a free, special one-year 60th Anniversary Supporter offer for small organisations and charities to help them manage health, safety and environmental risks.

Responding to the challenges of time, resources and the shortage of health and safety expertise among the smallest companies, the British Safety Council is inviting small and micro-sized organisations (under 50 employees) and small charities (under 100 employees) from across the world, to join it as Supporters.

Small and medium-size enterprises account for 47% of private sector turnover and 60 per cent of the sector’s workforce. It is a very diverse group of businesses, since they include both sole traders and companies. Almost 82% of SMEs are micro businesses, with under 10 employees. These figures demonstrate the complexity of the sector and the inherent pressures these organisations face in tacking workplace health and safety risks.

The Supporter offer is one of the initiatives which the British Safety Council is launching in 2017 to celebrate 60 years of its campaigning activities and its contribution to improving the safety and health of workers in Britain and abroad.

Supporters will enjoy a range of services and benefits, free of charge, for 12 months, to help them manage health and safety risks in their organisations. 

A Supporter will receive:

  • A limited-edition Supporter logo, which they can use to show their commitment to health and safety;
  • Access to a 24/7 telephone helpline with practical guidance and technical advice;
  • Free places for all employees on the British Safety Council’s General Health, Safety and Environmental Awareness e-learning course, ideal for inductions;
  • Online risk assessment templates that include general risk assessment, fire and manual handling;
  • Digital edition of the monthly Safety Management magazine;
  • Electronic posters and guides that focus on themes such as stress, lone working and manual handling;
  • Hear about opportunities to meet and engage with experts and peers tackling similar issues in their sector at the British Safety Council’s events and seminars.

Jigna Patel, Membership and Service Delivery Director at the British Safety Council, said: “The British Safety Council recognises the business and other challenges which small organisations and charities face in their everyday operations, often working with very limited resources, that make the management of health, safety and environmental risks even more difficult. Therefore, we are delighted that during our 60th Anniversary year, we can offer tailored support to the smallest businesses and charities through our Supporter offer, something which could help them put health and safety at the heart of their business.

“We are promoting the Supporter offer with help from other membership organisations, including the NCVO, which champions the voluntary sector, and NAPIT, a membership association for the building services industry. Extending our reach in this way will help us achieve our vision that no-one should be injured or made ill at work.”

Information about the British Safety Council’s Supporter offer can be accessed here. For information on the 60th Anniversary of the British Safety Council click on the following link.

Mates in Mind is the way forward on mental health in construction

British Safety Council in partnership with Health in Construction Leadership Group launches the Mates in Mind programme to address mental health in the construction industry

The second CEO health summit of the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) on 28 January in London saw the launch of the Mates in Mind programme, which aims to to raise awareness and understanding of poor mental health in the construction industry.  It gives managers the tools, information and training to make construction a healthier workplace. It also helps them start conversations with staff about their mental wellbeing and address the stigma associated with mental health.

Supported by leading mental health charities, such as Mind, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid England, and industry bodies, including BOHS, Build UK, CITB, HSE, IIRSM and IOSH, the event was attended by 300 construction leaders and key influencers in the industry. They gathered to review the industry’s progress in eradicating occupational lung diseases and the success of campaigns such as ‘Breathe Freely’ and ‘No Time to Lose’, as well as the growing importance of mental health issues in construction.

Launching the Mates in Mind programme, Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, said: “In the UK, for every one working day lost due to injury, five days are lost due to ill-health, with nearly half of them relating to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. The total number of working days lost each year in the UK due to mental health issues is 91m, which equates to £1,035 per employee (according to the Centre for Mental Health).

“Approximately one-sixth of the 2.1m construction workers in the UK are likely to be suffering from a mental health issue at any one point in time; a figure based on research by ONS. It’s a shocking statistic. Even more shocking is the fact that in the construction sector, people are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than from on-site accidents. Considering these alarming statistics, I struggle to understand why there’s so little focus on reducing suicide, compared to reducing accidents.

“The vision of the British Safety Council is that “no-one should be injured or made ill at work”.  However, like the construction sector, historically, we’ve shouted safety and whispered health. The Health in Construction Leadership Group is determined to redress this balance, and I’m proud to be the CEO of an organisation that isn’t just saying we agree, but is at the forefront of actually doing something about it.”

Unveiling the details of Mates in Mind, Steve Hails, Director of Health, Safety & Wellbeing at Tideway, an executive member of the Health in Construction Leadership Group and Chair of Mates in Mind, said: “The Mates in Mind programme is a single, consistent programme for the construction industry, designed in response to its expectations and requirements.  

“The programme, developed in close partnership with Mind, MHFA England and Samaritans, is raising awareness of the problem and providing support for those who need it. At the heart of it is a three-tier approach, starting with 45-minute general awareness training for operatives that will begin the conversation about mental health. Its third most advanced form is a two-day programme to train volunteer mental health champions who will support workers suffering from mental ill health. We are looking for 100% support from the industry for this initiative.”

Leading mental health charities and social community organisations who are partnering Mates in Mind have expressed their support for the programme.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “We are pleased to be a partner of Mates in Mind. It’s great to see mental health being made a priority and to contribute to an industry-wide approach that addresses the unique challenges of employers who have large numbers of people working across different sites, in different ways. We are very happy to be part of the solution, bringing our expertise to a wide range of employers wishing to improve the mental wellbeing of their workforce.”

Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans CEO, commented: “Samaritans welcomes the launch of Mates in Mind, an industry and charity partnership set up to train people to provide support in the workplace, raise awareness of mental health issues, break down stigma and encourage people to seek appropriate help. Samaritans is delighted to be a partner and looks forward to furthering these important aims.”

Bernice Cole, HR Director of MHFA England, said: “In any workplace, the mental wellbeing of employees should be a priority. The construction sector faces inherent challenges when it comes to addressing mental health. Men are typically less likely to talk about their mental health and those who do, face stigma and even discrimination.

“Better access to support is critical to improve outcomes for those living with a mental health issue. This is why we are partnering with Mates in Mind. This powerful industry initiative will give thousands of construction workers Mental Health First Aid skills which will enable them to spot the common signs of mental health issues and increase their knowledge so that they are able to help themselves and their colleagues.”

For help or further information from Mates in Mind visit the website at

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