Rene Van Der Merwe

Head of Workplace Health and Safety, Qantas

René Van Der Merwe is currently the Head of Workplace Health and Safety for Qantas Group.


Most recently René worked for Woolworths Supermarkets as the NSW Risk & Safety Manager, and was responsible for the project management and national roll out of the Physio Recovery program.

Previously, René worked as the Global Program Manager Sustainability Advocacy for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Corporation, responsible for developing a corporate platform for Environmental, Health & Safety sustainability across four operating regions. She was also instrumental in the implementation and operationalising of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals) legislation across affected operational regions. Prior to her global role, René led targeted injury prevention programs in the South African manufacturing plant, focusing on employee engagement and empowerment, measuring success through lead indicators.

Prior to Goodyear, she worked for Eveready Diversified Products as Integrated Systems Manager, responsible for implementing the first accredited, fully integrated ISO14001, ISO9001 and OHSAS18001 system in South Africa, back in 2005.

René commenced her career as a Validation chemist at Aspen Pharmacare, where she had the privilege to form part of the research team for the first generic, anti-retroviral drug that was released within South Africa.