Journalist, SHP Online

November 24, 2016

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Martin Coyd discusses his new role as Head of Health and Safety for Construction at Mace

Martin, congratulations on your new role, can you tell us about what the role involves?

I have recently joined Mace as Head of Health and Safety for Construction. Mace is an International consultancy and construction company, offering integrated services across the full property and infrastructure life cycle.  We operate in over 60 countries and are turning over £ 1.77bn per year to meet our target of £2bn by 2020.   I report into Mace’s Group Director of Operational Health and Safety, Andy Brown.

How many projects will you be overseeing, and on what sort of scale are those?

I lead a team of approximately 45 people, supporting 90 projects across the UK and Northern Europe. The construction sector at Mace comprises of 11 business units that cover a broad portfolio of work for a remarkable client group. This includes some of the most iconic projects and structures in Europe.

You’ve been a big player in raising awareness of mental health in construction, how important is it that construction companies start taking this huge issue more seriously?

It’s very simple. Ask the question: “How are you?”, and have a conversation.

I recognise that our world is ever changing and has become very fast paced.  The proliferation of high tech communications and social media mean it’s difficult  to switch off. The mental health of the nation is in a tough place and that is particularly acute in men, both young and middle aged. Men find it particularly difficult to open up, express how they feel and get help when they need it.  By taking some simple steps, raising awareness and educating people we can begin the conversation and provide support to those who need it.  We can make our world better by enabling this to happen.

What are the first steps people can take to start moving forward with a better culture towards mental ill health at work?

Very simple. Ask the question: “How are you?”, and have a conversation. Listening is a key skill as is being there for people in the team. Building trust and relationships is key. There is a fantastic nationwide network of organisations who can provide education and support to individuals, projects and companies.

How do you feel UK construction compares to other countries in terms of our health and safety culture, and in terms of mental health?

Mace is the third international company I have had the privilege of working for, so I have some insight into this question. I believe we are leaders of  a number of fields in health and safety, particularly around process safety, engineering and assurance. We can always learn from different cultures and the macho British culture can be unhelpful at times. Caring about people and putting peoples’ health, safety and wellbeing at the forefront of thinking is a good place to start.

Everyone has a different ‘best’.  The trick is to work out who is giving theirs and reward them for it.

What are Mace doing to help people suffering mental ill health in construction?

In my short time so far, I have learned that Mace have made some good progress in this area. This year there have been events such as ‘Happy Monday’ and a ‘Time to Talk’ session which were both held in May. The 2016 Mace Health Day takes place on Wednesday 30 November and will focus on mental health, supporting a wider health and safety campaign this quarter about  the positive steps towards physical and mental wellbeing at Mace. I have come into an organisation that is  determined to make a difference.

What is your vision for health and safety within construction at Mace?

To be the best we can be.  Relentlessly striving to improve our practices, taking small steps to raise our game and engaging all of our people and every person we come into contact with.

I don’t think or talk about performance as a target, a number or a score. Performance is simply a by-product of doing all of the processes well. If we get that right, by doing our best, we will get the numbers we need.

What would you like to achieve in your first 12 months in the role?

I will visit each project and operation, spending time listening to people at all levels and trying to understand what the challenges of the projects are. There are some outstanding people in the Mace health and safety team  and I have already seen examples of excellence in the field. Connecting all of the businesses and projects together, identifying our best performing teams and areas where we need to improve and building relationships where we can all pull together is key to delivering the best we can.

I would like to be in a place where we recognise people for giving their best.  Everyone has a different ‘best’.  The trick is to work out who is giving theirs and reward them for it.

Hear Jonny Wilkinson share his mental health struggles

We all know Jonny Wilkinson for his exploits on the rugby pitch. But what you might not know is that he has long struggled with his mental health and wellbeing, dealing with depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

In his honest, unguarded speech, entitled ‘Success on the field and mental health: a personal account of understanding what matters’, Jonny will recount how his focus and dedication to the sport he loves meant overlooking important parts of his life.

Learn more about the exciting inspirational speakers exclusive to Safety & Health Expo 2019 | ExCeL London | Thursday 18 June | 11:30 - 12:30

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Stuart shuttleworth
Stuart shuttleworth

Congratulations Martin mental health is a bigger issue on site than most people realise and it needs people like yourself to bring it to the forefront of site managers and supervisors