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Thread: Maybe a Job Limiting Decision - Naysaying the Boss

  1. #1
    ARMORED's Avatar
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    Maybe a Job Limiting Decision - Naysaying the Boss

    So... I got hired to the be the Safety Manager at a firm that is in an exponential growth pattern the last couple of years. Working now about 2 and half months. Safety manager with some caveats: No budget, no organizational authority to do anything, and I'm the first safety manager they've ever had. About 500 employees now, with another two hundred or so in the next 6 months scheduled to be added. Very busy company - 3 shift production, lots of bulky products to move, lots of liquids to pump around, frantic really. I report to HR and my boss is a work-a-holic female (14 hour days not uncommon).

    Last week, I realize "Oh shit." There are areas of the plant that are always wet, water flowing across the floor constantly. People are working in these areas with pumps, extension cords going wily-nilly across the area, 240 amp, 3 phase equipment running off extension cords, abandoned wiring, rusted crap electrical installations. Forklifts and manlifts occasionally in the area. Not a GFCI to be seen. I grab the maintenance manager and do a point-and-wave with him explaining my concerns and telling him we are going to start fixing this ASAP.

    I drop what I'm doing and write an email to the boss that says politely: Stop! We need GFCI's in wet areas or we are going to have to start a daily inspection program of cord connected equipment. I send it to my boss only as a priority review - warning her that there will be pushback from other parts the organization. I want her OK before I distribute it. I get an email back a day or two later saying: You have other priorities don't push this. The other priorities are primarily organizational/regulation driven - not somebody may be electrocuted. Like a pussy - I back down and reply: sure thing boss. Your wish is my command. But... I'm not happy.

    Boss is out of town this week. I decide today: Fuck this. Somebody could die tonight, so about 4:00 pm I grab an electrician and tell him: Before we leave, we are inspecting all the cords in this wet area. Anything that is fucked up we pull. We pull about 7 cords, one with exposed copper, some with split insulation, some with fucked up loose plugs, and we lock out a big pump with a fucked up plug set. OK - I made the electrician work overtime (no authority here remember?) to get this fixed.

    I write an email to the boss explaining that I messed up and didn't communicate clearly to her that the GFCI cord thing was a serious hazard to life, and that our company policy signed by the Owner said that that was a priority and that we wouldn't leave employees exposed to that kind of hazard. Tomorrow, I say, I'm starting the day inspecting more cords. And I'll write a safety class and instruct the maintenance staff on cord inspection. No GFCI = daily cord inspection. Also - I've been getting some push back from management at the plant she was visiting regarding another life safety hazard (basically - you crazy safety guy we got stuff to build: ignored) so I asked her to straighten him out.

    So... I'm happy. Did my job. Go ahead and fire me. Your company may not be ready for a safety guy. Reporting to HR sucks anyway.
    Last edited by ARMORED; 05-02-14 at 08:27 AM. Reason: corrections

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    Reverend Henry Kane's Avatar
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    Sounds like it's time for a phone call to OSHA.

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    ARMORED's Avatar
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    Nah... they just need to grow up as a company. Still think they are working out of their garage. Not. With 500 employees the owner = big bag of money for lawyers. I'm going to try and convince them it's grown-up company time, and not fawn or prostrate myself to the owner or the VPs.

    They don't know it yet, but they pay me to have ethics and balls. Balls enough to say: "Stop. Think." Balls enough to not care if I get fired.

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    Eddie Willers's Avatar
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    Yarr - just doing what you were hired for, as far as I can see.

    Reporting to HR, as a Facilities Manager, always used to grind my gears...jeezus, we're part of of Operations and Support, not fukkin' HR!!

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    Calloway's Avatar
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    My company had a safety committee - until they started making recommendations. Then management dismantled it.

    Everybody wants safety until they realize it may cost them some $$. Then, it becomes a nice-to-have, not a requirement. It's sad that so many companies are this way.

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    0kool's Avatar
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    and you can rest assured that if somebody gets electrocuted this god damn fucking piece of shit cuntatron will drop the responsibility ball right in your lap! Yea......what Kane said........time for a call to OSHA. You don't need your life and your working career ruined because of a fucking CUNT!

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    Calloway's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0kool View Post
    and you can rest assured that if somebody gets electrocuted this god damn fucking piece of shit cuntatron will drop the responsibility ball right in your lap!
    "I don't see how that could have happened! I put ARMORED in charge of looking into that."

    Career: finished.

  8. #8
    The Shadow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARMORED View Post
    Nah... they just need to grow up as a company. Still think they are working out of their garage. Not. With 500 employees the owner = big bag of money for lawyers. I'm going to try and convince them it's grown-up company time, and not fawn or prostrate myself to the owner or the VPs.

    They don't know it yet, but they pay me to have ethics and balls. Balls enough to say: "Stop. Think." Balls enough to not care if I get fired.
    Document everything that you do and everything that you write. As another poster said, once REAL safety issues start costing money,
    management might decide that they dont need your services.

    BTW, you did the right thing; you took the initiative and did your job.

    If I got electrocuted at work like this, I am using the services of the best attorney I can find and suing the hell out of anyone that I can, and that too costs lots of money.

  9. #9
    daves0311's Avatar
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    As loathe as I am to get .gov involved in ANYTHING, I agree anout OSHA. This isn't about one cunt's ego or the company saving money; it's about the safety and lives of the employees and any contractors that may have to work on-site for any reason.

    One more nice thing about where I work is that ANY employee can, at any time they feel unsafe with a task or instructions, put a halt to everything and seek redress. Whether that be a better explanation, a different process, whatever. And if they're not satisfied with how their immediate supervisor handles things, there is the option to keep taking it higher up the food chain. AND, since it's written into our rules and the union agreement, there can be no blowback for legitimate use of this ability. I have yet to see anyone use it for more than clarification of what is desired/expected, but it's there.

    That also brings to mind another possibility, though I don't know if it's an option at your plant: union leadership. A shop steward should have the power to put a stop to production if unsafe working conditions exist. If there is no union in your shop (and there prob isn't, since most of what little manufacturing there is in this country anymore is non-union), then it falls on you, unfortunately.

    I prob don't have to say this, but I'm going to anyway: document EVERYTHING about this situation. Print out and save any email communications with this cunt. If state law allows it, consider making recordings of any verbal communication with her. Better yet, insist on ONLY communicating electronically, and again, print out and save anything she sends you. And get pictures of the conditions and hazards. Lots of detailed pictures.

    Water isn't just a shock/electrocution hazard, it's also a slip-fall hazard and a disease hazard.

    Once you have documentation, speak to OSHA (and pray to whatever god you believe in that nothing happens to any employees in the meantime). OSHA isn't the be-all, end-all of safety (as I'm sure you're aware), they're stretched pretty thin on the ground, and they're like a guard dog with only three teeth in its mouth, but they are (mostly) better than nothing, esp. if there's no union and the state or local safety agencies are more inclined to look the other way and wink-wink-nod-nod "Bob's your uncle".

    I've worked at companies where there have been accidents up to and including deaths, even though I've never suffered or witnessed anything more serious than minor cuts, burns, or pinches. Safety is something that far too many companies AND workers give lip service to but sacrifice for the sake of expediency or production.

    Personally, I don't want to have to know that someone else was injured or killed by a condition that I could have prevented. I'm not some kind of bleeding heart, mind you, I just take my job and safety seriously. If something happens that I could have prevented, then I have failed.
    Last edited by daves0311; 05-02-14 at 04:18 PM.

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    Hammerhead's Avatar
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    Two phrases:

    1. Treble damages (for knowingly violating safety regulations, resulting in an employee's injury or death).
    This phrase mean BIG bucks and will put the fear of God into any company owner or corporate counsel (attorney) with a minimal bit of sense.

    2. Criminal liability. As in, someone goes to jail. make sur it isn't you by documnting the crap out of your reccomendations. verbal warnings/suggestions/guidance don't exist. Memos, e-mails (with copies of EVERYTHING to your personal account for preservation), etc.

    One more suggestion: Get an attorney, and find out if you can qualify for whistleblower protection. That way, if they try to blame you or "restructure" your job away, you've got the company by the walnuts.

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    Mongoose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ARMORED View Post
    Nah... they just need to grow up as a company. Still think they are working out of their garage. Not. With 500 employees the owner = big bag of money for lawyers. I'm going to try and convince them it's grown-up company time, and not fawn or prostrate myself to the owner or the VPs.

    They don't know it yet, but they pay me to have ethics and balls. Balls enough to say: "Stop. Think." Balls enough to not care if I get fired.
    I don't like to play cynic, but be wary of being set up to take a fall. True they would like to avoid liability, but the most important thing to each of them by far is their jobs, paychecks and promotions, which are based on productivity, not safety. Hiring a safety manager is like a job insurance policy in case something goes wrong. They don't want to hear about it because they believe they have already paid the premium.

  12. #12
    Older and Wiser's Avatar
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    I would concur about YOU being set up to take the fall if ANY safety violation results in ANY serious injury or death.

    Sure you HAVE to document your recommendations, which can then be overridden (be sure to keep documentation of them being overridden) ... BUT ... "Safety" to be really effective in a manufacturing plant set up is a PHILOSOPHY that comes from the TOP DOWN and "infects" everyone with it's importance.

    In my job I have been in lots of manufacturing plants over the years (maybe 200-300 hundred different ones) and just walking in the door one can FEEL a plant's attitude about safety. If it is part of the plant culture ... guess what ... things never get bad, everybody KNOWS to get little things fixed right away or have the problem area, or machine, secured until it can be fixed. By everyone I mean EVERY hourly worker, EVERY supervisor, EVERY person who works on managing plant operations. NO BLOWBACK ... JUST A NICE THANKS FROM EVERYONE for catching a problem early.

    I was recently in a steel plant and as we were walking through the plant the Plant Manager (the highest mucky muck of the entire large operation) made a point of walking up to an hourly employee and THANKING HIM for reporting a safety problem the previous day. He said he saw in his morning report about the problem and who noticed it and wanted to thank him personally. What he said was being genuine too ... this plant manager's philosophy was NO WORKPLACE INJURIES period! NO SAFETY ISSUES period!

    Unfortunately it is going to fall on your shoulders to try to create from scratch that kind of attention to detail by others. YOU can't see it all. YOU can't notice everything. It takes the entire shop floor to do it properly, and for that to happen THEY (those on the shop floor) have to feel that 1) what they say is being heard and taken care of and 2) there is NO NEGATIVE BLOWBACK on them for pointing problems out.

    Good luck.

    It sounds like you have a management issue that is actually bigger than any specific safety issue you have to contend with. Creating a "new culture" in a business is often the toughest job of all.


    Older and Wiser
    Last edited by Older and Wiser; 05-02-14 at 09:38 PM.

  13. #13
    Nacho Vidal's Avatar
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    Same old story. Last place I worked at, the wanker boss sent a warning to us all about leaving bottles of coke and other soft beverages in the main Datacenter. Ok he had a point, but this warning was ye olde typical mangina "people will be sacked" type warning so totally OTT. A few weeks later myself and a collegue go in the DC and what do we find? Empty Dominos pizza boxes and half consumed bottles of coke and sprite with some being on top of the servers and switches in the racks? So we took pictures and forwarded them to the boss...turned out they were his and some other twats. What a Wanker!
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