Annually, on the Wednesday of NAOSH Week, we take the day to recognize the efforts made by occupational safety and health professionals who dedicate their careers to support and protect the health and safety of others. This day also raises awareness about the OH&S profession and salutes the education, training and practical experience it takes to advise, develop strategies, and facilitate workplace health and safety management.
Made Safe NL would like to celebrate two of our very own hard-working OH&S professionals, Christina Marshall and Jessica Schiestel, so we asked them to share a little about their career paths to date and why they’re so passionate about safety.
Christina Marshall, BA CRSP
Safety Specialist, Program Manager
I’m not exactly sure if I found the safety profession or if the safety profession found me. Either way, I am truly grateful for this rewarding career choice, for all the wonderful experiences I’ve had, the fantastic people I have met and the immeasurable ways this job has helped shape the person I am today.
After completing my undergraduate degree at Memorial University, I wasn’t quite sure what career path I wanted to take. I served in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Naval Reservist part-time, completed a tour overseas on HMCS Preserver, and trained junior service personnel. From there, I transitioned into the civilian corporate training world, where I discovered my passion for adult education. Health and safety career opportunities were increasing in NL, so I decided to complete the Safety Engineering Technology program at the College of the North Atlantic, and I didn’t look back. Since then, I have spent the past two decades teaching and coaching others ‘how’, and most importantly, ‘why’ it is essential to make the right choice, the safe choice, every day.
The classroom has been where I have taught others, but also where I have learned the most. The past 20+ years have given me a look inside workplaces across many industries either in person or through first-hand stories about the challenges, realities and successes workers and employers face daily regarding health and safety.
These observations, stories, and interactions have become the storybook that I continue to share with others. There is no doubt that technical information is critical to ensure workers, supervisors, and employers understand the ‘how’ to be safe at work every day, but it is the stories and shared experiences that really make the training ‘sticky’ and ensure that the ‘why’ resonates with each participant.
I have learned so much from these workplace interactions, but I have benefitted equally from a network of colleagues that are incredibly passionate, knowledgeable and compassionate about their career choices. I regularly rely on other health and safety professionals as sounding boards, advisors and teachers to learn, share and collaborate. Their support has been invaluable to me.
With my newest role as a Safety Specialist and Program Manager with Made Safe NL, I look forward to increased learning, sharing, and collaboration with other OH&S professionals and every person who wants to take a safety leadership role within the manufacturing and processing sector. Together, I believe we can improve health and safety outcomes and enhance the safety culture for this sector, ensuring each and every worker returns home healthy and safe at the end of each workday.
I am proud to be a health and safety professional surrounded by so many like-minded colleagues who have dedicated their careers to the care and protection of others.
Happy OH&S Professional’s Day!
Jessica Schiestel, BSc CRSP
Health & Safety Advisor
I didn’t grow up aspiring to be an Occupational Health and Safety professional. I don’t think many of us did, and I believe that’s what makes this career choice unique. It’s rare to find another safety professional that followed the same career road as you.
For me, the human body study (both physiological and psychological) had always sparked my interest. So, when I began the Safety Engineering Technology Program at the College of the North Atlantic in 2013, I felt I was on the right path.
From there, I headed out to the Alberta Oil Sands to begin my career in safety, and I have to admit, it was intimidating. Born and raised in Newfoundland, a young woman fresh out of school – what could I possibly offer? I quickly understood that although there was a lot to learn, I had just as much knowledge to share.
Helping employers keep their workers safe through advising, developing programs, and auditing management systems quickly became my passion. I also found that I was inherently good at being someone that workers could confide in. This part of the role is something I cherish. The realization that lending a listening ear can positively impact the outcome of someone’s workday was eye-opening.
As with any career choice, the OH&S profession presents its challenges. Often having to initiate tough conversations, supervisors sometimes dreading to see you pull up to their site or deal with the unfortunate outcomes of workplace incidents and illnesses. These challenges, however, are what drives me to keep impacting positive change.
I spent six years in Alberta getting “boots on the ground” experience in different industry sectors before my family decided to move back to Newfoundland and Labrador, which brings me to my current role as Health and Safety Advisor for Made Safe NL. I am so proud to be a part of an organization whose mission is to enhance an entire sector’s provincial workplace safety culture!
Throughout my career, I have worked with and been mentored by some exceptional OH&S professionals. I have learned valuable lessons from each of them. I want to take today to recognize them and the efforts of all OH&S professionals. What we do is essential. Although our work is often behind the scenes, when workers get to go home safe at the end of the day because of what we do, that’s what truly matters. Happy Occupational Safety and Health Professional’s Day. Thank-you!
Work safe. Home safe. Every day.