Safety starts at the beginning of the supply chain, says OHS director

To make effective change, you have to understand how the whole organization works

Safety starts at the beginning of the supply chain, says OHS director

Stephanie Benay has been in the health and safety industry for more than 20 years.

“I came into the industry quite by accident, I was very fortunate to work for a national airline as a professional in my 20s not in safety – but as it turned out a role became available within the flight safety group.”

At the start of her career, Benay admits that she knew nothing about safety.

“But what I discovered was that it really made sense […] I took to it like a duck to water.”

Benay worked in flight safety for a number of years. She eventually went back to school to get a formal education in safety:

“I graduated at the top of my class,” she says, “my classmates were my first clients!”

Her consulting business took off shortly after, Benay says that she was trying to balance raising a young family and starting out in the health and safety environment.

She then worked her way up to a leadership role at a large company, pivoted to oil & gas and now is Director of Safety at BC Hydro.

“The area that I understand really well is around safety management systems, and the reason I’m able to understand that is because I am very much a systems thinker,” says Benay.

To make effective change, a safety professional has to understand how an entire organization works – regardless of industry.

“[Safety] starts all the way at the beginning in supply chain, and so being able to understand how large organizations work and [how] safety management systems can integrate so they’re built in not bolted on really is an advantage that has worked well for me in my career.”

In addition to her role at BC Hydro, Benay is also the Chairperson for the Women in Occupational Health and Safety Society (WOHSS).

“It is one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life – not just my career,” she says.

WOHSS was founded in 2017 in Calgary with the mission to make the safety profession more equitable and improve things for women coming into the occupational health and safety industry.

“We felt we could start the conversation and do things differently,” says Benay.

The organization is focused on networking and mentoring up and coming health and safety pros and helping them become leaders.

A good safety leader has a vision, says Benay, and is “able to communicate it at multiple levels to different people within [their] organization in a way that is meaningful to them.”


To hear more about Stephanie’s stellar career, tune into the first episode of COS Talk available now here.