Never a dull moment for COH safety official Stefan Malhotra

Never a dull moment for COH safety official Stefan Malhotra

There’s never a dull moment for Stefan Malhotra when it comes to safety.

“Every day presents a new challenge with a new set of stakeholders. Safety touches on some aspect of every job in the city and that requires a lot of connections and communication,” he said. “Learning how an organization works and how we can improve people’s lives through safer actions and procedures is fascinating.”

As the deputy assistant director for Risk Management in the Human Resources department, Malhotra has only been with the City of Houston just under two years, but the Houston native said he has been able to see a lot of changes during that time.

The City of Houston has a very large work force, relative to other public and private-sector organizations, and that can lead to some differences in how people think about and approach safety.  However, what sets the City of Houston apart is everyone’s receptivity toward improvements in our safety culture, Malhotra said.

“There’s always room for improvement when it comes safety, and our employees ask and strive for it,” he said.
Although Malhotra has worked in risk management for some time, he said he started his career in environmental consulting and regulatory compliance.

“As I became more familiar with industrial operations, I transitioned to a risk management role which includes elements of engineering, data analysis, systems development, and root cause analysis.”

“I really enjoy the variability and systems-based work that risk management requires,” he said.

The importance of safety was relevant during the recent holiday season. Malhotra said that’s a time when personal safety and daily life intersect the most. But the awareness then should extend around the year.

“People are partaking in new activities, traveling, and spending more time at home. Conversely, these activities also present new infrequent hazards and thus increase risk of injury and distraction” he explained. “Those tasks and activities we perform once a year around the holidays deserve more planning and attention that what we’re used to.”

That is where communication and standardization of practices come in. The importance of safe operations and preventative actions can’t be understated at the City of Houston, he said.

“The impact of a single unplanned event or injury has extensive consequences that go far beyond what most people think about. There are physical, mental, emotional and financial costs that are incurred and that have lasting impacts, sometimes decades long,” he said.

Malhotra said being accountable to each other is vital to ensuring safety.

“While at work, we are accountable to each other and we depend on one another for our personal safety, directly and indirectly,” he explained. “Because of that interdependence and reliance on everyone performing their jobs safely, we have no choice but to exercise safe work practices. In my experience, even the smallest preventive action, can have profound impacts on other’s well-being.”

Malhotra said he wants people to understand how critical safety is to all activities workers perform every day.

“Safety doesn’t stop once we’re off the clock. In fact, statistically more incidents occur off the job than at work. That’s why is so important to always keep the safety mindset with you and never leave anything to chance, especially when it can affect your co-workers and loved ones,” he said.

When he’s not working, Malhotra said he enjoys traveling and spending time in the outdoors with his family. He’s also an avid runner and enjoys mountain biking when he gets the time.


Pete Mayes