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Safe, Healthy and Productive Workplaces: Learning from Research and Practice Conference 

Conference Overview  |  Conference Recordings​  | Speakers & Topics   | Full Speaker Bios  | Organizations & Sponsors ​​

Keynote Speaker Biographies

Brian Anderson, CPA ​

Vice President, Operations and Chief Operating Officer (COO), BC Transit
Brian joined BC Transit in 2010 as the Vice President of Business Development to ensure that its people, processes and technology aligned with corporate business strategy. He assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer in 2014 where he is responsible for strategic oversight of the expansion and deployment of services across the 130 communities served by BC Transit. Brian is committed to maintaining a culture of safety and operational excellence to ensure that employees, customers, transit partners and other stakeholders continue to enjoy best-in-class services.  Brian holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Victoria and is a Chartered Professional Accountant.​​

Debbie Cohen, OBE, MD, FFOM, FRCGP, FRCP, FAcadMEd​ 

Professor and Director, Student Support, School of Medicine, Director, Medic Support and the Centre for Psychosocial Research, Occupational and Physician Health, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Institute of Medical Education​


Debbie is an Occupational Health Physician, Director of both Student Support and the Centre for Psychosocial Research, Occupational and Physician Health at School of Medicine, Cardiff University. Debbie undertakes research in physician health as well as  managing the support services for medical students in Cardiff, she leads a service for Wales for doctors with mental ill health. She manages and provides training on novel programme with a Norwegian colleague for both medical students and doctors in training in Wales on building emotional intelligence and resilience. She provides expert advice to Wales and UK Government on services for doctors with mental ill health and work and health and the fit note. She is the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (UK) lead on physician health. Debbie helped establish in 2011 the UK Association of Physician Health. her recent research is investigating disclosure options for doctors and medical students with mental ill health and is in the process of building an intervention to support earlier disclosure.

Debbie also undertakes research into mental illness and employment more widely and improving the conversation about work and health in health practitioners. She is a principle investigator at the National Centre for Mental Health in Cardiff, which researches a wide aspect of mental health, including employment issues in Wales. Debbie developed and ran the Royal College of General Practitioners training programme on work and health and at present is exploring shared decision making in work and health conversations. In 2012 Debbie received the OBE for her contribution to occupational medicine.​​ 

​Robert J. Gatchel, PhD, ABPP ​


Distinguished Professor of the Department of Psychology, College of Science, and the Nancy P & John G Penson Endowed Professor of Clinical Health Psychology, The University of Texas at Arlington; Director of the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health & Chronic Illnesses​

Robert J Gatchel received his BA in Psychology, Summa Cum Laude, in 1969 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1973 from the University of Wisconsin. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). 

Dr. Gatchel is currently a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Psychology, College of Science, as well as the Nancy P & John G Penson Endowed Professor of Clinical Health Psychology, at The University of Texas at Arlington. In addition, he is the Director of the Center of Excellence for the Study of Health & Chronic Illnesses. Moreover, he is a Clinical Professor at The Eugene McDermott Center for Pain Management, Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Management, at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. 

Dr. Gatchel has been a major advocate for the biopsychosocial approach to chronic pain. This approach is now viewed as the most heuristic model for better understanding the etiology, assessment, treatment and prevention of chronic pain. Dr. Gatchel has conducted extensive evidence-based clinical research in this area, much of it continuously funded for the past 30 years by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense (DOD). He was also the  recipient of  a prestigious Senior Scientist Award from NIH. His major areas of clinical and research expertise include the following: the biopsychosocial approach to the etiology, assessment, treatment and prevention of chronic stress and pain behavior; the comorbidity of physical and mental health disorders; and clinical health psychology. He has published over 406 journal articles, 147 book chapters and has authored or edited 30 books. He has received numerous national and international awards and honors associated with his work in pain assessment, prevention, and management.

Ewan B Macdonald, OBE ​

Professor, University of Glasgow; Head, Healthy Working Lives Group; Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow​​​

Ewan is Head of the Healthy Working Lives Group which he established at the University of Glasgow in 1990. Previous experience includes being Director of Salus Occupational Health & Safety which is the largest NHS based Occupational Health & Safety service in the UK. Other roles have involved being Chief Medical Officer to Alcan UK and Europe, Chief Medical Officer to IBM (UK) and Chair of the IBM European OH Board (EU, Middle East and Africa).  He also started his career in Occupational Medicine after training in internal medicine, in the UK Coal-Mining Industry.

As well as leading the Healthy Working Lives (HWL) Group he has always combined academic research and teaching with clinical practice. He is a Past President of the UK Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) and Founder and Past President of the OM section of the Union of European Medical Specialists. He developed the Healthy Working Lives Paradigm and this was adopted as policy in Scotland. Subsequently he stimulated its review which led to the Health Works Policy. During 2011 he chaired the implementation group of the first Health Works pilot to introduce a redesigned musculoskeletal service in the Health Service in Scotland with the aim of ensuring a more patient-centred faster service with a focus on return to maximum function including work, where appropriate. He is a member of the National Advisory Group, Healthy Working Lives, Health Scotland and has recently been invited to be an expert advisor to the newly formed Scottish Government Disability Advisory Group.Ewan also proposed the OHS Extra service which was the forerunner of the "Fit for Work" service across the UK.

His research includes extending working lives, working age population, sickness absence, and he has recently published the first OH study of high altitude climbing Sherpas. His research has evolved from a focus on the health problems caused by work to the health problems caused by worklessness and he believes that worklessness is the major contributor to increased morbidity, mortality, health inequalities and social exclusion in Scotland. He established with others, the Scottish Observatory for Work and Health, which is based in his group at the University, and current research projects include evaluation of return to work initiatives, the biological changes underpinning health inequalities, long working hours and doctors' health and health and safety in equine vets. His research income over the past 20 years has exceeded £9 million and includes research for the MRC (Medical Research Council), the Scottish Government, NHS Lanarkshire, and the HSE (Health & Safety Executive).

Izabela Schultz, PhD ​

Professor, Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education, University of British Columbia​​

Dr. Izabela Z. Schultz is a Professor of Vocational Rehabilitation Psychology at the University of British Columbia and Director of Canada's only graduate Program in this field. She is a clinical psychologist, neuropsychologist and vocational expert, licensed to practice in Ontario, British Columbia and Washington State. She is an innovative researcher in the area of prevention of occupational disability and recipient of American Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology of Disability (2014) for her leadership work on nonvisible disability in the workplace. She has published seven pioneering handbooks in the field, on prevention of occupational disability, musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace, occupational health and wellness, and return to work interventions.  ​

Dr. Schultz is a popular speaker in the field, in Canada, United States and internationally. She is called upon as an expert witness to provide courtroom testimony in numerous nonvisible disability cases. Recently,  Dr. Schultz spearheaded development of the multidisciplinary, expert-based  Cortex Centre for Advanced Assessment in Vancouver (www., a new science-to-practice consulting, training and direct service venture that helps with the challenges employers, insurers, professional licensing bodies and lawyers face in disability prevention, return to work, independent assessment, fitness for duty, work accommodations, as well as employee selection and management development.          

Ian Munroe ​

Retired Vice President of Claims and Vice President of Employer and Worker Services, WorkSafeBC​


Ian Munroe joined WorkSafe BC in 1994 and served in a number of roles including Vice President of Claims and Vice President of Employer and Worker Services. Prior to joining WorkSafeBC, Ian held positions in the public sector as Assistant Deputy Minister with the Province of B.C and in the private sector with Sears Canada in Vancouver and Toronto.



Ben Williams 

President, Unifor Local 333BC​

Ben Williams is the President of Unifor Local 333BC, representing employees at BC Transit, HandyDART and Medi-Van in Greater Victoria as well as the HandyDART workers in the Cowichan Valley. For the past three years he has been Chair of Unifor’s Political Action Committee in BC. In November 2016, Ben was elected Chairperson of the BC Regional Council for Unifor. He is also the Vice President of Unifor’s Road Transportation Council. Since taking office, Ben has made it a top priority to work for improved health and safety conditions for his Unifor members both locally and across the Country. Ben helped lead the lobbying effort to pass legislation in 2015 that levies stronger penalties against those who assault transit operators. He has not only worked to improve members’ wages and benefits, he has worked with BC Transit to increase transit ridership to make Victoria transit system one of the best and safest transit systems in Canada. Ben can often be found advocating and volunteering for the homeless and less fortunate at the local homeless shelters/assistance agencies the Rainbow Kitchen and anywhere else our Union gives back to the community, such as local food banks and the United Way.

Ben has always been actively involved on union committees including Health and Safety and Political Action. He works with many of community partners such as the University of Victoria Student Society and the Camosun College Student Society. Under his leadership, Local 333BC has supported student campaigns for better transit service in Greater Victoria.​

​Anthony D Woolf,​ BSc, MBBS; FRCP​​ 

Honorary Prof​essor of Rheumatology, University of Exeter Medical School, and Plymouth Peninsula Medical and Dental College; Clinical Director of the NHS National Institute of Health Research Clinical Research Network Southwest Peninsula​

Professor Woolf has long been involved in various initiatives to raise awareness of the impact of musculoskeletal conditions and priority for education, prevention, treatment, and research at a national, European, and global level.  He is Past Chair of the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health. He leads the Bone and Joint Monitor Project, a global health needs assessment that provides the evidence base for action.  He edited the WHO Report on the Burden of Musculoskeletal conditions at the Start of the New Millennium; and coordinated the European Bone and Joint Health Strategies project.  He is co-lead of the Musculoskeletal Expert Group of the Global Burden of Disease Study that is influencing health priorities nationally and internationally.  He led the European Musculoskeletal Surveillance and Information Network – an initiative supported by the European Community to promote a comprehensive strategy to minimise the impact of musculoskeletal conditions across Europe.

He advises the WHO on various relevant issues, in particular disability, ageing, and non-communicable diseases, and has contributed to various reports.  He has most recently advised WHO Europe on including musculoskeletal health in the Non-communicable Disease Action Plan 2016 - 2026. ​

He works with NHS England, Public Health England and Department of Work and Pensions to ensure musculoskeletal health is in all policies – health, social and employment.  In particular he is working with Public Health England on initiatives to promote healthy active ageing, increase physical activity, and to reduce the impact that musculoskeletal conditions have on people's ability to work.  He is currently advising on the government policies to transform the employment prospects of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.  This is on a background of a program of activities to reduce the impact of musculoskeletal conditions on work.

Agnieszka Kosny, PhD


Dr. Agnieszka Kosny is a scientist at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto


Dr. Agnieszka Kosny is a scientist at the Institute for Work & Health in Toronto. She holds a PhD in public health from the University of Toronto and has over 15 years of experience in using qualitative research m​ethods to explore occupational health and safety and workers' compensation issues. She recently completed a two-year term as a research fellow at Monash University in Australia.​


Last Modified: 8/24/2017 3:57 PM