TC Chadinha has had an interesting and varied career before landing as the Group manager for People and Safety at Scope Industries.
He immigrated to New Zealand from South Africa in 2017, after a career as a covert operative and Senior Detective in the South African Police Force. He finished his police work as the Executive Manager for Risk management and National Threat Analysis.
He started in New Zealand as a Group Systems Manager for HSEQ and HR in civil construction, before studying to obtain Diplomas in OSH, Risk and H&S Management, and degrees in Applied Management. HR Management systems and OSH Management systems. He has since been a part time lecturer at SIT in Management Systems, including Risk, H&S, HR, Sustainability, Administration and Project Management.
Q1: What is your background, and how did you get started in health and safety?
Starting 38-years ago at Covert Ops, and then Murder and Robbery, my whole focus was on protecting innocent people from terrorism, murder, rape, heists, and hijackings. I hunted cold-blooded killers and rapists for a living, in the most violent country in the world. There were on average 47 murders per day in South Africa – every day, every year. There is now on average 70 murders per day – police statistics, not politician statistics. And, it is the country with the highest rape rate in the world, for the past 30-years.
To protect those innocent people and children, and bring the hyenas to justice, I had to look after my own health and safety, and of those within my team. We had to be mentally fit, trained, focused, aware, and united, with superior communications skills to be able to go into the everyday situations of arresting criminals who came out shooting, and then go home in one piece. We had to stop them, so they couldn’t hurt more people and children.
Risk Management was all we did to survive – 24/7. We couldn’t afford to drop the ball once because if we did, there were more deaths.
Q2: How has your health and safety journey progressed?
In my 17-years in New Zealand, I worked in the civil construction industry for 12-years, with a 5-year stint as a corrections officer back in 2009.
In construction my job has always been Risk, Health, Safety, Quality, Environmental, Human Resources, Training and Development, and Sustainability.
In 2023 an opportunity arose, where the Scope Group Limited appointed me as their Group Manager People and Safety.
It feels pretty amazing to be picked by the best Asbestos Removal and Demolition Company in New Zealand. And, like that song from Tom Walker – Leave a light on – I feel that I followed the light that they left on, and now I’m home.
Q3: Were there any specific people who helped you on your journey?
Dr Bill Glass, the godfather of occupational health in New Zealand, and Senior New Zealander of the Year 2019, who not only was one of my lecturers, and my mentor, but also the person who advised SIT that I should lecture papers for them.
Q4: How has health and safety culture changed and/or developed during your career?
The past 17-years in New Zealand, I worked in corporate, all that time. And, as we know, corporate is all about the money, and not the employees who work there. Managers who police their employees, a toxic environment, and a culture of blame.
However, like with Scope Group Limited, and hence the reason for their ongoing success, there is actual leadership from the top, who have a ‘People First Approach‘.
I am seeing that there are more companies moving away from that toxic corporate police mentality, to where they respect their employees, treat them with kindness, and support them with a – No culture of blame, but how can we do things better next time – approach.
They actively listen to their employees, treating them like family, and making them part of the decision-making progress. Then the employees own the processes, and it becomes part of the culture, with a view of – that’s just the way we do things here, and not having to enforce rules.
Q5: What are some challenges you have had to overcome in your current role?
Corporate toxic environments.
You manage resources, and you lead people. My biggest challenge to overcome in the past was working in that corporate “Manager” environment, till now. My company have awesome leaders from the top down, who care about their employees, and put them first.
Where do you see the industry heading in the next few years?
With technology being the future, the focus needs to be on active communication, teamwork, and creating an environment where we plan before we do, opposed to just ticking boxes. I see that there are companies that are engraining these positive aspects into their company culture.
Q7: Any advice for someone wanting to start a career in health and safety?
Finding the right mentor would be the priority. Study through distance learning – SIT – which allows you to study in your free time within your busy life. Go to meetings of the Canterbury Safety Charter events and workshops, and look for a mentor in that environment.
Think things through. Plan before you do, and involve all the people who are doing the work. Be practical, and add value. Be smart, be respectful, but most of all – be kind.