Ottah, Chukwuemeka Kalu is my name, “seasoned” competent and passionate HSE Professional with over Nine (9) years’ experience in the construction, fabrication, Oil and gas and Maritime sector of the industry, a proactive team-player with great innovative skills taking on the world’s toughest challenges in the industry and proffering solutions to them with zero tolerance to incident.
How will you define the safety profession?
The HSE profession is not just a profession or career, it is a life that cannot be lived without passion. Passion is the fuel that keeps you going against all odds, many times you are always standing alone while all others are on the other side. You will be ridiculed, rejected and frustrated all because no one sees things from your perspective but with persistence fuelled by your passion you will be able to hold on while you try convincing others to see things in your light and it yields result faster when you back it up with practical.
At what age did you become a safety professional?
A beam of the HSE light shined on me while I was in the university when one of my lecturers Professor E.E Oguzie took us on an aspect of Safety in my mid-twenties. At that point I began to nurture the idea and started looking for a way to bring it to light; I became an HSE professional at the age of 26 years.
What did you set out to become before becoming an HSE Professional?
I was traveling the path of an industrialist which was why I opted to study Industrial chemistry in the university, however; that hasn’t changed because HSE is multi-disciplined and remains a key pillar in any sector, hence it is a precursor to where am heading, so am still on track
Tell us about your background
I was a science student in my high school days and have grown to become a passionate HSE Professional, the quest to solve problems by proffering lasting solutions incident and injury free has brought me to this point but I have not even started, am still on the cover page.
Where do you hail from?
I hail from the South Eastern part of Nigeria, Abia State to be precise but I now have dual nationality because I have also become a citizen of the HSE Kingdom.
I am from a nuclear family; I am married to a queen blessed with a prince
How do you tackle challenges on the job?
Each challenge on the job is unique and has to be treated as such if you must get a quick and positive result, don’t forget every second count in HSE.
There is what we call the E-COLOUR (this gives you a clue to individual trait, behavioural pattern) and helps you relate with each individual in that manner; for instance, the colour code on a green- horn’s hard hat tells you, this personnel is new to this environment hence must be guided accordingly so he does not constitute a hazard).
Also, Human behaviour is key to achieving incident and injury free operations because processes and procedures will fail if the individual behavioural safety is poor since equipment and machines don’t have brains but we do and they must be operated by personnel in their right frame of mind.
It is therefore pertinent that you engage your mind before engaging your hands.
What do you like about your job?
I love the evolution of new challenges as new hazards keep coming up at different work location; you would not expect the hazards at shallow waters operations to be exactly the same with deep water operations, neither will you expect vessel operations to be exactly the same on jack-up barges; the environment is different so are the hazards, this keeps you on your toes to constantly be on the lookout for a better way of solving problems and proactivity is key.
Active indicators like Risk assessments, Job hazard analysis, routine workplace inspection, safety meetings, Toolbox talks, Time out for safety, Safety audit, HES suggestions, safety inductions, and others would be of immense help. Furthermore; a review and assessment of lagging indicators like Days away from work cases, restricted work cases, medical treatment cases, non-occupational illness, near miss, equipment damage, oil spill, fatality from the previous similar operation will assist in eliminating incident and injury.
What don’t you like about your job?
Sincerely, I love everything about my job, which is why I said earlier that HSE is more than a profession or career to me …it is life and my passion.
I will go anywhere provided it is HSE, so, I am HSE personified.
What is the growth opportunity in your job?
It will interest you to know that HSE is an area the third world country is just waking up to explore. Rome was not built in a day. The growth prospect is very high which is why HSE professionals are on the crusade of raising the level of safety consciousness in the country. I preach the gospel according to HSE on the go because you keep teaching, correcting unsafe acts and encouraging individuals and groups to keep creating safe conditions and environment.
What is your strength?
This emanates from my continuous learning ability and quest to create an incident and injury free environment – Zero tolerance to an incident is achievable driven by passion
What is your weakness?
I used to be a man of few words but my passion for my profession has changed that as I can’t stand the sight of the unsafe act and unsafe condition.
“You see it, you own it”, you fix it.
Ownership mentality has been my watchword”
What is your management style?
My management style is Dynamic without compromising safe work processes and procedures.
There are times when dialogue is the way out and there are also times when you have to use the rod, it depends on the scenario, individual and E colour
My pivotal moment
These are times when I least expect to be noticed and would be called out for recognition for outstanding HSE performances which was just as a result of my passion.
It refuels me with the energy to keep the HSE banner in the air despite all odds.
Relaxation and Hang out
I love relaxing and hanging out by the seaside, having a feel of nature with friends and family.
I enjoy reading. Mind you! Information is the currency of destiny; it determines your purchasing power in the market of life. You are as good as the knowledge you have and that could only be obtained from reading and studying.