It is not often that you get that ‘perfect fit’, where your own values, dreams and vision align perfectly with those of your employer. This is happily the case with Mary Mashiane, who has been with Crossroads since 2015 as the company’s National SHEQ Manager.
Although Mary completed her National Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) (then known as Pretoria Technikon), she became fascinated with health and safety issues which she encountered during her early working days. Curiosity soon got the better of her and she switched careers and changed her studies to focus on health and safety, completing a B-Tech degree in Quality.
“I realised early on that by becoming involved in health and safety, I would be able to help others,” she says.
During her career Mary has worked extensively in health and safety in the mining, fuel and transport industries, building up an impressive array of achievements and accolades.
“I believe in safety beyond compliance, because I want to change lives.”
Keeping a Nation Safe.
As her knowledge and understanding of safety has grown over the years, so has her commitment and passion: “I am more passionate than ever about safety,” she says. “The more I learn and understand about it, the more passionate I become. If you keep people safe at work, you keep a nation safe!”
For Mary and Crossroads, it’s all about changing behaviours. “Our strategy is to encourage our colleagues to practise safety, not because it is a rule, but because it keeps them safe,” she explains. “This
means that they will be able to go home and see their children growing up. It is like giving a person oxygen: whatever the person practises becomes a way of life. By doing this, we are building safe and responsible communities.”
“If I can change one person’s mindset, I can change a nation, because that person can influence their network. It is a chain,” she adds.
Raising a Safe Community
For Mary and the rest of the Leadership team at Crossroads, safety is a “revenue keeper and a life saver. It is not about rules: it is about empowering people to make the right decisions and the right choices,” she explains.
One of Mary’s first slogans she introduced in her Safety career was “Mr Driver, your family is waiting for you to come back home.” She explains: “Once you make the message personal, it changes the way people think and the way they behave. Thinking drives behaviour.”
The Crossroads approach is to encourage people and to empower them to take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others.
Explaining the “perfect fit” between herself and Crossroads, Mary says: “Many companies have safety as part of rules, procedures, policy and practice. Crossroads leadership however sees safety as a responsible way of operating. It is ingrained in the culture. The company sees the benefits of having safe minds at work, rather than just rules. This aligns perfectly with my philosophy – we are in sync!”
It does however take time to change mindsets. But the team has seen the results, through the declining number of accidents and unwanted incidents in the business.
Mary is quick to attribute Crossroads’ successes in safety to the team: “When there is success, I look through the window. When there is a problem, I look in the mirror!”
Beyond life at Crossroads, Mary aims to take the safety message to the youth: “I have a passion for teaching children about safety: by doing this we can bring up a nation with good safety habits”.