Toni Wittstock

Published on : 8/2/21
  • Toni Wittstock, Assistant HSE (Health, Safety, Environment) Manager, is challenging the perception that those who oversee correct HSE procedures on-site are ‘enforcers’.

    Toni Wittstock“In the line job of HSE, we are always thought of being ‘the police’, and we always need to rectify that thinking when we go on-site,” Toni said. 

    “HSE is no longer about policing. We are there to deliver support advice and safety to our frontline employees.”

    Toni explicitly understands the weight her role carries, having been a frontline employee herself when she first started with Sodexo almost 13 years ago. 

    Entering the business as a housekeeper, Toni’s whole career trajectory changed when she volunteered to be on the emerging prestart board, a group responsible for conducting regular safety briefings. Her time with the board inspired her to make a difference through safety. 

    A year into her employment at Sodexo, Toni was recognised for her dedication to the prestart board and was offered the opportunity to become a HSE Trainee. In this role, she travelled to Sodexo sites across Australia to deliver briefings on safety systems and processes. As employers, Sodexo invested in Toni and her training. Within two years, Toni was promoted to HSE Advisor and five years later she was operating as an experienced and well regarded HSE Specialist within the business. 

    Toni’s growth has not slowed down, and her daily mantra is to lead by example. 

    “We need to have the courage to have courageous conversations, the courage to put up our hands when we do something wrong and the courage to choose to rectify our behaviour and share our learnings,” Toni said.

    “My role is about changing the safety culture of individual villages and individuals themselves.” 

    Sodexo’s National Manager for HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) Greg Howes said Toni’s confidence has developed exponentially as her responsibilities increased, with Toni now coordinating the profile of one of Sodexo’s largest mining clients in Western Australia.

    “She’s been very committed to improving safety and very caring about frontline employees,” Greg said. 

    “After playing a key part in the development of our COVID-19 response, she’s become a go to person for reactive disinfection cleaning.”

    Greg attributes a lot of her success in Sodexo to how she communicates with people on their level.

    “Her passion is what stands out when she talks – she speaks from the heart,” Greg said.

    “Wherever she goes, she influences people in a positive way. It’s all about the people, and this authentic approach to health and safety is what resonates with people. She takes people on the journey of why they need to achieve things,” Greg said.

    Most recently, Toni has been involved in the latest Sodexo campaign, ‘My Why for Safety’, which invites employees to think about safety not as an obligation but as a way to return to their families, loved ones, pets, hobbies – whatever it may be – unscathed, healthy and happy. 

    “Having those effective and positive conversations with frontline employees, and their why and reason for safety, is a highlight of my job,” Toni said. 

    “It’s about having that impact in the field and walking away from that person who will remember and engage in safe practices even when you’re not around to witness it.”

    “Touch wood, but in my 13 years I’ve never needed to take sick leave, and never had an injury or incident.” 

    “Have I had near misses? Definitely. But it is about putting your hand up and sharing those near misses so others can learn from you.” 

    “It is all about being transparent, being factual and being very honest.”

    As an Assistant HSE Manager, Toni currently oversees six HSE employees and uses her personal experience to guide and support them in their budding careers, as her mentors did for her.  

    “It is important to me to have that open conversation with our HSEs who are on the ground and may be struggling in the day to day, giving them positive reassurance in their decisions,” Toni said. 

    “My advice is: be impactful, and lead by example. Have trust in the system, the process and the support at Sodexo to ensure your career is fruitful, and most importantly, safe.” 

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