Acting Director of Risk Management Services at UKZN Ms Sinegugu Tshabalala graduated with a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies. Her research study, which was supervised by Dr Sachin Suknunan explored how occupational health and safety (OHS) can be used to motivate employees and create a better work environment.
Prior to assuming her current position, Tshabalala was the OHS manager at UKZN’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine. ‘As an OHS professional, I aim to use my study’s findings to inform best practice at the University,’ she said. She added that OHS issues are often overlooked because Higher Education Institutions are regarded as safer than other workplaces.
‘OHS is associated with the manufacturing rather than the educational sector. My research focused on the impact of lack of OHS on staff motivation as a result of not feeling safe at work.’
While juggling her studies and her work, which entails responsibility for the safety and security of the entire University community and property across the five campuses was challenging, Tshabalala described the experience as both exciting and overwhelming.
‘With COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 and the major injury I suffered towards the end of 2020, it was a struggle to keep to timelines as I could not walk for a few months,’ she said.
‘I hope my research will enhance my approach to OHS matters and my understanding of how my colleagues feel about OHS. This includes an opportunity to redesign our systems and improve OHS provision at UKZN.’
She thanked her husband, three children and siblings, especially her sister Phindi who is also a UKZN staff member, for their support.
Words: Khumbulani Myeni
Photograph: Abhi Indarajan