Small Talk....with Tania Van Der Stap
Why do you work in Health and Safety?
Authenticity. The profession provides synchronicity between who I am as a person and the work that I do. At a deeper level, the vocation is driven by sanctity of life and preservation of quality of life. These are values that nurture inner care and concern for others with mutual engagement of hearts. The diversity of the discipline from psychology to engineering to operational risk management, provides an expanse of professional learning much greater than most other professions. The opportunities for engagement of the mind, particularly requiring business acumen, are always evolving but the fundamentals such as risk management are like a stake-in-the-ground.
The profession has given me a voice through both the written and spoken word strategically and operationally at the local level and globally. Everybody has an opinion about ‘safety’ so there are endless forums for vigorous debate. To avoid this in social settings, I strongly suggest being any (I mean any) other profession.
What do you see for the future of the health and safety profession?
As the author of ‘Productive Safety Management’ published internationally by Butterworth-Heinemann in 2003 and more recently the chapter, ‘Risk Leadership – A Multidisciplinary Approach’ in the American Society of Safety Professionals book, ‘Safety Leadership and Professional Development’, I have a clear mission in relation to the safety profession. This is to facilitate the transition from ‘safety thinking’ to ‘risk management thinking’ by which multiple business objectives – production/productivity, quality and HSE incident mitigation – are pursued concurrently.