My name is Solomon Ekong Okon, a genteel Quality, Health Safety, and Environmental management professional with over 8 years’ experience across manufacturing, oil & gas and construction sectors.
How will you define the safety profession? The safety profession is a branch of a career that cut across all profession, a safety professional should be vast in both science and art for him/her to be able to play the role of an advisor.
A safety professional is one who applies the expertise gained from a study of safety science, principles, practices, and other subjects with professional safety experience to create or develop procedures, processes, specifications, and systems to achieve optimal control or reduction of the hazards and exposures that may harm people, property, or the environment.
At what AGE did you become a safety professional? I became a safety professional at the age of 24.
What did you set out to become before becoming a safety professional? I was planning to become a civil structural engineer, but during my one-year internship program, I attended several seminars on Safety Engineering which motivated me to integrate safety into my engineering profession these seminars exposed me to the Nitty-gritty of the safety profession, which made me reroute my career path to accommodate Safety and Health and I started enrolling for professional courses.
Tell us about your background? My career started in Civil Engineering; before proceeding for certifications in the Occupational Health Safety Environment which I enrolled and obtains several professional certifications to enable me to function effectively in my chosen career
Home town? I hail from the Southern part of Nigeria, specifically Akwa Ibom State
How do you tackle challenges on the job? I approach challenges with a motivated mindset and passion for the safety of Life and the Environment, once I encounter workplace challenges I focus on the long term benefit for the business and social sustainability, I know there are sometimes it can be frustrating and discouraging but I have to demonstrate resilient desire to tackle complex challenges and work towards solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
On the job once I observe that top management is reluctant in implementing my recommendations I will present an analysis of cost implications for implementing a standard process, which will outweigh the effect of not implementing best practices in the organization.
Take, for instance, a company that neglects fire prevention plan by the installation of firefighting equipment just because no fire incident has occurred, an analysis will forecast insured and uninsured financial losses caused by the incident and the effect to cooperate image. `
What do you like about your job? Am passionate about safety and technology which gives me incredible opportunity to research on global trends and how it can impact business negatively if hazards in operation are not managed effectively.
I love the teaching and coaching aspect of the profession where I have to educate workers on how to work in a safe environment, return home safely to their families, retire healthy and enjoy their retirement in a greener environment devoid of contamination.
What don’t you like about the job? Well, I dislike when I see an accident happen; when ideally it would have been prevented if there were policies and laws in place and effectively implemented. Some organization does not value safety principles, they see it as a waste of time and resources, and they focus on their production target until an accident occurs where life and property are lost.
However; I accepted a lifelong obligation to use my knowledge and skills to create Health and Safety awareness strive to always be a safety champion.
What is the growth opportunity in your job? The growth opportunity is dynamic in an emerging nation like Africa; the safety profession is gaining broader awareness and partnership with other developing countries, which are also targeted on safety innovative initiative for safety of life.
A safety professional must keep abreast with the ever-changing technological environment and emerging artificial intelligence with Continuous Professional Development through Refresher training, attend seminars and research on the relevant best standard of practice.
What is your Strength? I have ability to jungle multitasking project and complete it effectively, am good at developing a management system for organizations, establish documented procedures for the management of change and I can cope with frequent travels during the course of my work.
I am reenergized daily after reflecting on the difficult moment I have overcome trying to implement safety policies on site where no policies exist, most especially knowing that life is full of challenges, that is why we are here to proffer solutions to complex scientific problems without putting our life at risk
What is your Weakness? I am an introvert, growing up as a child I was identified as one, which makes me consider it as a weakness, back then I prefer to work alone with a small group of people. I realized as a professional that being an introvert has advantages.
It has motivated me to work more using thoughtfully problem-solving skills, and I have enrolled in several emotional intelligence workshops/seminars which have helped me to build leadership skills, and ability to coach workers daily on their health and safety.
Management style? I like management that embraces safety as a vision in their daily businesses and their strategic business prospect, an organization that endeavors to include safety matters in their meeting in order to drive a positive safety culture.
A Management that establishes a framework for implementing safety policies throughout the organization and encourages workers participation during the decision-making for their health and safety, consistently review management system and ensure it conforms to existing laws, regulations and standards.
Pivotal moment? They are times where my recommendations on the safety of life and property are considered and approved by stakeholders after extensive deliberation. Also, there was a time I worked tirelessly for an organization to be certified, which I have to sleep in the office, the company finally scales through certification, I was awarded by the top management.
The happy moment when I prevented a fatal accident from occurring and prevented fire incident from escalating, there was a moment were I resuscitated a worker by performing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on him to regain consciousness.
Relaxation/hangout? I spend time with my family watching a seasonal movie, I love admiring nature and playing snooker games.
Reading? I have a passion for social network news on an event around the world, I love reading fictions novels about science and artificial intelligence.