My Story: Ammar Hussain
While I was celebrating my Rising Star of Safety Award (Class of 2018), a simple question popped into my mind: “Did I ever think of coming this far?” Honestly, I never planned on achieving such a milestone. This is a totally unpredictable, yet inspiring, journey of a young engineer who entered corporate life to earn his big dreams and ended up exploring something more substantial.
As a graduate trainee engineer, I was deeply in love with the technical, operational and design exposure. However, I was shifted to the occupational health and safety department because of a vacancy. Brought up in a culture that lacks basic environmental, health and safety awareness at a community level, I perceived OHS merely as a professional responsibility and, personally, as a career-stopper. A couple of years of hard work made me a focal person in establishing safety management systems and training employees at my workplace. Excelling at my job was just a professional stepping-stone until things changed on Feb. 18, 2015.
At 4 in the morning, I received information of Ayoun’s death. Ayoun ul Haq was my first professional mentor and a very dear colleague. This news came as a shock to me, but the worst part was the reason behind his death – an accident because of sheer negligence of home safety. Ayoun was electrocuted while operating an electric pump with substandard wiring. His family knew of this hazard and several near-miss events had been plainly ignored.
A few days before his death, I was emphasizing off-the-job safety while conducting a training session. Ayoun, being in the audience, was mocking around, perceiving this as another refresher training. I believe we both were there just to fulfill our professional obligations. Ayoun had good understanding of process safety standards, and it is totally out of the question that he may not have been aware of such a basic hazard that eventually took his life.
Taking both his death and the training episode in context, my perspective about the field of health and safety completely transformed. It was a simple realization of the grave difference in knowing OHS practices and believing in OHS practices. That’s all that took my friend’s life! Ever since, I literally approach everything with a “safety first” mindset. At work, when I conduct safety audits, my intent is not to collect a bundle of highly technical observations, but to ensure people around me are just as safe as I would want myself to be. I may not be able to bring back my friend, but I certainly can try to save other lives.
Ammar Hussain, CSP, CRSP
Assistant manager – EHS