Meet a Local 68 member who has overcome great odds to earn the respect and admiration of his coworkers
By Rachel Debling
AMANPAL “AMAN” SINGH BUTTAR IS a walking, talking source of inspiration, according to the coworkers who know him best. The Local 68 member has been employed as a construction safety officer by Ledcor Construction Limited in Vancouver for over a decade. In that time, he has made an impression on all who encounter him, as evidenced by his recent nomination for CLAC’s Everyday Champions award by one of his coworkers.
Supporting his fellow workers, especially those new to the country, is Aman’s number-one goal. His story, and the story of those he has impacted, is a testament to the concern and support for all people in the workplace community that is emblematic of what CLAC stands for.
AN IMMIGRANT FROM INDIA WHERE he worked as a senior lab technician, Aman came to Canada in 2005 but experienced difficulty finding employment in his chosen field.
“They evaluated all my certifications and told me I would need two years of schooling, which is around $30,000 each year, to work in a lab,” says Aman. “I could not afford it, since I had to pay rent plus my car insurance, not to mention food. So I decided to change my career.”
Aman landed a security job on the night shift of a construction site, which served as his entryway into the trades. Following that role, he found himself in the world of semi-trucking, though he admits he didn’t enjoy it. He was soon back in construction security, this time at ITC Construction Group, where he became more hands-on on the company’s job sites.
After being laid off from ITC in 2010, fortune shined on Aman and he was brought on board by Ledcor, where he has remained to this day. Initially, he was assigned the role of a labourer and told that the company rewards jobs well done—there was the potential to move up in the ranks once he had proved his tenacity.
And prove it Aman did. He was promoted to a lead hand first aider after only six months.
“I got lucky and here I am,” says Aman humbly.
Former CLAC member Barry McCarty, now senior manager, health, safety, and environment—Western Canada for Ledcor, took note of Aman’s enthusiasm right away. With his support, along with the support of others who saw Aman’s potential, Aman was put on the right course to help his career blossom.
“When Aman started, he had a first-aid certificate and showed an interest in working in safety,” says Barry. “His manager, Noris Raycroft, and I arranged for Aman to complete the construction safety officer course and become certified. Safety supervisor Mike de Jong and construction safety officer Jeremy Laird mentored Aman and helped him grow his knowledge of construction safety. He progressed into more responsibility, then into more complicated projects, and now he is mentoring people himself.”
AFSHIN FIROUZBAKHSH, a construction safety officer employed by Ledcor and Aman’s Everyday Champions nominator, is one of those people. He immigrated to Canada from Iran in September 2018, and he fondly recalls the first time he met Aman while he was working as a temp worker for Ledcor.
“We had safety talks every Friday at noon, and I was lucky enough to attend one of those meetings,” says Afshin. “I was able to get Aman’s attention by expressing my views, and this became a reason to talk more with him and for us to get to know each other better. After a while, I realized that his methods for engaging workers and drawing their attention to safety issues were completely different.”
Aman soon became Afshin’s mentor. Afshin, who was new to the country and the safety professional industry in Canada, held Aman’s opinion and guidance in high esteem. And Aman was confident that Afshin could thrive in the same industry that he himself had found a place within.
“Afshin forwarded his resume to me,” says Aman. “I helped him apply for the job, and because of his qualifications, Mike de Jong followed up with him, and I was able to give him a good reference.”
Afshin’s patience and persistence paid off, and with Aman’s gentle pushing, he landed a job interview. Soon he was working in Ledcor’s safety department.
“To build a new career path, you need to expand the network of professionals around you,” says Afshin. “Who better to guide me than the safety officer of a construction project?”
IN TIME, AFSHIN BEGAN TO regard Aman as more than just a coworker. He was like a brother.
“I have a special needs daughter, and Aman understood my challenges as an immigrant,” says Afshin. “He was always trying to give me positive energies and make me calm about life challenges. He encouraged me to be a hard worker and helped me take advantage of Ledcor’s flexible work hours policy when that was what I needed for my family.”
Barry notes that the relationship between Aman and Afshin reflects the kind of workplace culture that Ledcor and CLAC encourage.
“There are people in our workplaces who truly care,” says Barry. “They care for their coworkers, and they care about relationships. Ledcor is lucky to have people like Aman who do a great job of representing the company’s ideals and creating a positive workplace culture.
“It’s not the work itself or the money that makes people happy at work—it’s the relationships. It’s about working with people who want you to succeed, and Aman is that kind of person.”
Aman is happy to have had such an impact on his coworkers, especially in teaching about and ensuring on-site safety.
“I think if you are helping others by sharing information about safety, and by not punishing them unnecessarily, that’s a positive culture to me,” says Aman. “If someone is doing something wrong, I will correct it.
“Lots of people call me to ask about safety, which I really love. So before doing something that may be wrong, they ask for my opinion or advice.”
AMAN’S INFLUENCE AT LEDCOR WILL no doubt continue for years to come. His pay-it-forward attitude and willingness to help those around him thrive in their careers prove just how deserving he is to be nominated for CLAC’s monthly Everyday Champions award.
Although winners are selected at random from qualified nominations, Aman’s win opened the door to sharing his story. His concern and support for his coworkers at work and in their lives is the same reason why Afshin nominated him, and it’s why so many members nominate their coworkers for an Everyday Champions award.
“I will never forget the help Aman gave me,” says Afshin. “He is a very sensible, supportive, and responsible person who does not ignore the lives and destinies of the people around him. Indeed, he deserves this recognition.”
For more details about CLAC’s Everyday Champions award and to nominate a coworker, visit clac.ca/EverydayChampions.
Nearly everyone is familiar with the mandatory viewing of workplace health and safety videos. And while most are done well and provide important information, some miss the mark. Here are three safety videos available on YouTube that leave viewers with more questions than answers.
1. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame claimed in a workplace health and safety video posted to his YouTube account in 2016 that safety actually doesn’t come first, it comes third.
2. A more lighthearted video titled “Funny Office Accident Video” shows how a single misplaced rubber band can take out an entire office. Judging by the fact that it ends with a plug for stationaryisbad.com, it’s more ad than safety video—but it’s still worth the watch.
3. Wendy’s got in on the action with its 1989 training video called “Wendy’s Grill Skills,” complete with a cringe-worthy rap. Be forewarned: it’s 15-plus minutes, but if you can handle the long runtime, you may learn a thing or two.
Sources: unboxedtechnology.com, thrillist.com, YouTube