5 minutes with an airport occupational health and safety manager
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Phumla Zungu, an occupational health and safety manager at the King Shaka International Airport, was one of the people at the forefront when Covid-19 hit South Africa and impacted aviation.
Her occupational health qualifications and scientific background came in handy as she put all the knowledge she gained during her 20-year career into dealing with the crisis.
“People now understand that what we do has an impact on the health and well-being of both staff and stakeholders.
“With Covid-19 expected to remain a reality for some time to come, what we do will play a critical role in helping the world go back to normal," she said.
IOL Travel caught up with Zungu to hear about her job and her travels. This is what she had to say:
How did you enter this profession?
I have a passion to serve people and ensure their well-being in some way. During my early career, I enrolled for a few safety courses while working in the lab. I advanced my career over the years, which eventually led me into the specialised occupational health and safety space.
How do you start your mornings?
Before I prepare for the day ahead, I always start with a prayer. Whether I work from home or at the office, I like preparing for the day ahead.
Can you tell us what a day in your life entails?
As an occupational health and safety manager at the King Shaka International Airport, my core function is to ensure compliance with all health and safety legislation and regulations.
I manage the two critical service providers contracted by the airport, so my day at work will include the visit to the clinic and the paramedics base to ensure compliance and smooth running of the service.
Contractor management is also another critical role. We have to ensure that all contractors and stakeholders who provide any service to the airport are compliant with the relevant legislation and adherence to airport policies and procedures.
What has been your biggest achievement?
I count maintaining the balance between my work and home life as one of my achievements. There is also no greater joy than witnessing the success of the people I mentored over the years. I go to bed knowing that I have achieved my purpose, which is to serve people.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
It has to be East Asia. The Himalayas, to be specific. I remember going on retreats in the mountains.
What is the one thing you cannot live without while on holiday?
My journal and books. I love reading.
How do you unwind after a long day?
I meditate. I also enjoy going hiking and taking long walks on the beach with my children.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to be in an executive position. In that role, I aim to contribute to strategic objectives and the overall success of the company.