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Tribute to a SA Safety Legend

Sunday, 07 June 2015  
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Tribute to a South African Safety Legend

By Dr. Bill Pomfret

Bunny Mattheysen, a South African Safety Legend in his own lifetime.


My dear friend Bunny Mattheysen joined the National Occupational Safety Association, (NOSA) on June 1, 1958, and he held various senior posts in the Association. In 1970 he was appointed general manager and in 1986 became the managing director, then in 1987 he invited me to provide the key note address at NOSHCON, this was the start of a friendship that has lasted close to 30 years

In 1989 I wrote to the South African Ambassador to Canada about Bunny, and one year later in 1990 Bunny was awarded the "Order for Meritorious Service Gold Class" (OMSG), one of South Africa's most prestigious awards, by the then State President, Mr. F. W. de Klerk, for the outstanding work he has done in the field of occupational safety during the past 33 years.

Bunny, together with two colleagues where the originators of NOSA's MBO 5 Star Safety and Health Management System, which was introduced in the 1960s. The principles and concepts of this system were adopted in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, and Portugal. Bunny Matthysen was the first head of a national safety organization to introduce a national safety audit system based on performance and not just frequency and severity rates. He was one of the first safety professionals to be awarded the National Diploma of Safety Management by the Department of National Education (NADSAM).

While I was the EVP Director at Large with the “World Safety Organization” I used the WSO vote to nominate Bunny for entry into the National Safety Council's Safety & Health International Hall of Fame, Bunny is still the only South African ever to be inducted there to this day.

Now almost 89 years old, Bunny’s h
ealth is deteriorating, but his mind is still active and alert, I am proud to be Bunny’s friend, and am much wiser for working with him over the years, many of fondest memories are my trips to South Africa, the NOSHCON events, the National executive briefings we conducted each year, the hospitality that Bunny and Tiennie shared with me, the introductions to important and famous people most South Africans can only dream to meet.

I have photograph albums full of these memories, from going to church with the family, visiting the Kruger National Park, Zulu Land, Sun City, Table Mountain etc. Their collective friendship was always warm and sincere, we even took their grandchildren with us on many trips, so I would not miss my kids so much, back in Canada.

Picture: Bill (left) with Bunny at his home. Bill paid Bunny a visit when he was in South Africa in May 2015 attended the Saiosh /IOSH Conference as a key-note speaker.

For those South Africans too young to know Bunny Mattheysen, please, remember this is the man who did more for Safety in South Africa, than anyone, he is truly a legend in his own lifetime.

Sincerely; Dr.Bill Pomfret

Safety Projects International Inc. Canada

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