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How Do You Deal with An Unsafe Contractor?

What you don’t want to do is get into an argument about who has authority.

Let’s say you work in the maintenance department of a plant that frequently brings in contractors. The Safety Director conducts a 30 minute safety orientation that all contractor employees must attend. It covers the basics, such as wearing eye protection while in the plant and performing lockout/tagout as needed.

A new crew is onsite replacing some internal doors between rooms. The doors are automated, so that lift truck operators don’t have to manually operate them just to go from one room to another.

You’re not working directly with this particular crew, but you and they are often in sight of each other as you go about your respective tasks.

Yesterday, you noticed they’d run a power cord across a foot traffic walkway. You approached them and identified yourself, then you pointed out the safety hazard. After getting a deer in the headlights look from them, you pointed to hooks that had been installed above the walkway expressly for the purpose of running a power cord over the walkway instead of across it.

Today, you noticed the cord lying on the floor again. You walked over to them and asked why the cord wasn’t properly secured in the hooks. At that moment, their supervisor arrived and after a brief discussion told you, “We don’t report to you, mind your own business.”

At that point, what kind of response is a bad idea? A good idea?

What you don’t want to do is get into an argument about who has authority. Put the focus on the safety. Ask the supervisor to please just go along with the plant’s safety practices.

This supervisor has exhibited a bad attitude toward:

  1. Customer service. Report this to the person who is managing this project.
  2. Plant safety, despite a 30 minute safety orientation. Report this to the Safety Director.

It’s your plant, and you have a right to a safe workplace. Most contractors bend over backwards to not only be safe, but to be courteous toward and respectful of, all employees of their customer plants. You don’t need a contractor that fails on either count.

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