Samantha Lushtak, MS, CSP, CIT began her safety career before she even realized she was doing the work of a safety professional.
Lushtak, an environmental, health, and safety professional with over 10 years’ experience and owner of Absolute EHS – a safety consulting company, enrolled at Reed College after high school where she declared as a Chemistry major.
“During my junior year, I was beginning to wonder what I wanted to do with my chemistry knowledge and what I wanted to write my thesis on,” recalled Lushtak.
It was by the end of her junior year that Lushtak decided to leave Reed College and return home to New York and enroll at the City University of New York (CUNY) system where she wanted to pursue a chemistry-psychology major.
“The idea was to take psychology classes and transfer those back to Reed, but I realized shortly into my stint back home that I was not interested in going back into the “bubble” that comes with small schools,” said Lushtak.
The decision to remain home unknowingly set her on the path to understanding the importance, and existence, of the safety profession. Lushtak began interning for the CUNY psychology department where she began working with Stachybotrys mold.
“The thing that sparked my interest in safety was the fact that I was working with undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs who came from biology and psychology, and none of them were handling their chemicals safely.”
Lushtak quickly realized that many of the people handling the mold samples, and other chemicals and hazardous materials, didn’t seem to understand how to properly use their personal protective equipment (PPE), nor were chemicals being stored correctly.
“I began volunteering an extra two hours per day to re-organize the chemicals, create color-coded maps, and train my peers in what I was doing and why,” said Lushtak.
She began taking her self-appointed safety role so seriously that she taught herself the New York City safety rules and regulations and the applicable Federal regulations. Her efforts weren’t going unnoticed; the safety department at CUNY and Principle Investigators (PI) began to bring her into different projects including radioactive, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry labs.
“Those experiences led me to work at a particle accelerator for a short time,” said Lushtak. “They allowed me to develop arc flash, compressed gas, and cryogenic programs.”
It was while working at the particle accelerator that the PI began to refer to her as the lab’s ‘safety officer’ and it clicked – just a few years prior she was majoring in chemistry, unsure of what she wanted to pursue upon graduation, and now she had a clear and defined path in safety that she knew she wanted to follow.
That path has led her to where she is today — a 10-year safety profession veteran with a master’s degree in Occupational Safety Management who runs her own company and earned both the Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Certified Instructional Trainer (CIT) certifications from BCSP in 2018.
Her company, Absolute EHS, offers customized environmental, health, and safety solutions for all business needs. She helps people solve a wide array of hazardous issues including ergonomics, pest management, active shooter training, hazardous materials training, etc.
Lushtak said her favorite part of being a safety professional is that ‘ah-ha’ moment when it begins to click for her students and clients. Educating, and continuously learning, is her favorite part of the job.
“I became a safety professional because students were not being taught how to be safe in school,” said Lushtak. “I got into safety to educate, to make a difference, and to ensure students and employees can go home at the end of their day and not have a horror story to tell their family and friends.”
If you would like to reach out to Sam to directly ask questions about her journey or any of her certifications, please feel free to reach out: Samantha.Lushtak@AbsoluteEHS.com.