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  1. #1

    need advice just graduated hvac school and fired from helpers position

    hello my name is danny z. and i just grduated hvac school from the referigeration institute in manhatten. i went to a union shop and the first week went fine. the second week i was in a commercial building with a supervisor and mechanic and we changing filters in the airconditioning systems and i was going slow up and down the ladders and two filters where so high in the ceiling i could not reach them and i did not feel comfortable on the top rung of the ladder so the other mechanic had to change them. so after i go back to the shop the guy who hired me just said you had your hands in your pockets and you are not fit for this company and would not give me any explanation or second chance. i do not have experience in this field and maybe should i try referigeration? i am looking for a career but i am not used to ladders yet i am a hard worker and fast learner. would appreciate advice even if may have been my fault of not just going on the ladder??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Desert Southwest
    Posts
    690
    Here's my advice, FWIW. Since I wasn't there I won't judge but if it were me and knowing you were just out of trade school I would have felt it was my responsibility to "keep you busy" and "train" you.
    As for the ladder thing, not standing on the top two steps of a 6,8 10, etc ladder will keep you safe and OSHA guys off your back.
    That rule is there for the simple reason of having enough ladder within arms reach should you loose your balance or need to duck out of the way is a piece of equipment shifts or comes loose and it keeps your center of gravity lower. Again, like I said I wasn't there so just file it away and chalk it up to experience then go out and find another job.
    Did the school teach ladder safety and have you work on a ladder during your training? In my opinion you should be on a ladder twice a week so it becomes second nature.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    St. Louis
    Posts
    3,486
    Wouldn't a union shop actually be more upset with you for using the top rung? I always thought they were sticklers for avoiding any sort of safety risk. I might be completely ignorant about this...?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Desert Southwest
    Posts
    690
    They should be but safety only goes as far as the person in charge lets it go. When people get in a hurry it all too often takes a back seat.
    If you can't fix it with JB Weld, Duct Tape, and Ty Wire it has to be replaced.
    No good deed goes unpunished.
    If you want to take off friday to go fishing then make sure you train your helper right.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    69
    Ultimately, your safety is your responsibility. Don't do anything you know to be unsafe. I know of several people over the years that left the job site in the coroner's wagon because they ignored safety rules to get it done quickly. If you're a union member, go to your union representative and see what can be done with this situation

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    West Chester, PA
    Posts
    511
    I would file a complaint. It is illegal for them to ask to to violate safety standards and then fire you for not doing so. I don;t know employment laws in NY but I would either talk to my union rep or a lawyer. Even if you were only there a few days.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    21
    I was almost fired for 'almost' the same thing. They keep an eye on your hands! Having your hands in your pocket to them signals that you are either; not working, do not want to work, not paying attention, being disobedient, etc. You can even get in trouble for this at sports try-outs in new york. The next big offense is being on your phone- which to them sends the same signals as having your hands in your pocket. This was probably not your intention, but like me... i had to learn that to them... small things like that matter.

    I was close to getting fired because i had my hands in my pocket and just looking at the mechanic (a big mistake if you are a helper/apprentice). I had my hat backwards, and i walked into the place with my headset on for music (it didnt matter that i was in a warehouse full of men in the middle of nowhere and that i was "off the clock" and hadnt started yet- it just left an impression that this supervisor wouldnt let go). This to them shows a lack of not caring, lazy, and not driven enough. I had to explain to the bosses that this particular mechanic didnt let me touch his tools, he didnt teach, and didnt instruct me on what he wanted me to do, which was all true.

    The key thing is to hustle, wide eyes, no hands in your pocket (to fix this habit i place my hands on my hips, have you ever seen football players do this? There is a reason why, many coaches will yell at them if they see their hands in their pockets), keep bugging the mechanic if he needs help, reach out and grab his bag or ask if he needs help lifting that, etc. Look for something to do. I went to school and spent a lot of money, but at the end of the day if the mechanic wants me to grab his 5lb bag, i reach for it and pamper him if needed, might even ask how him how his kids are doing while i am at it.

    As for the ladder thing, that could be an issue. My company has strict ladder rules, but i still have to do spiderman moves to validate my paycheck when the mechanic asks me if i can get that belt. I was always climbing as a kid, so the ladders never bugged me, but they are something that needs learning. Maintenance needs to be done fast in some cases, there are far too mechanics milking hours, or trying to stretch work into ot; last thing they will need is a guy who is too slow in pulling filters. Especially if some guys are quick to point the finger when a supervisor presses him on why a 5 hr account is taking the whole day (they slip away from you, blame it on you, then might be happy that he gets to sit on a 5 hr account and do nothing for 3 hrs, it does happen!). Tomorrow i do an account that is impossible to do without getting on the top step, even if you had a little giant ladder, the half of my body is always literally inside the unit.

    I dont know what union you are in, if you were in local 30, i believe you can call your dispatcher for another job. Those guys i heard are usually busy with a lot of helper/apprentice jobs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Morgan Hill Ca.
    Posts
    1,219
    Quote Originally Posted by dannyz View Post
    hello my name is danny z. and i just grduated hvac school from the referigeration institute in manhatten. i went to a union shop and the first week went fine. the second week i was in a commercial building with a supervisor and mechanic and we changing filters in the airconditioning systems and i was going slow up and down the ladders and two filters where so high in the ceiling i could not reach them and i did not feel comfortable on the top rung of the ladder so the other mechanic had to change them. so after i go back to the shop the guy who hired me just said you had your hands in your pockets and you are not fit for this company and would not give me any explanation or second chance. i do not have experience in this field and maybe should i try referigeration? i am looking for a career but i am not used to ladders yet i am a hard worker and fast learner. would appreciate advice even if may have been my fault of not just going on the ladder??
    Having been 2700 miles away from you, I don't know what actually happened.

    That being said.

    It sure sounds like a "bad supervisor" to me.

    Allow me to explain. I just reamed my apprentice this morning for using a ladder unsafely. He was "straddling" the second from the top step of a 10' ladder next to some ductwork while we were making some repairs as he was pushing against a power drill and this was causing the feet of the ladder to "walk".

    If the person you were working with knew you were "green" then he should feel ashamed of himself.

    Now.... That being said. I can't stand it when a newbie just stands around with his thumb up his butt and does not ask what he could be doing.

    Some examples are...

    Try to figure out what tools will be needed next and have them "at the ready" when the time comes...
    Pick up bits of trash while experiencing "down time", we use "if you got time to lean, you got time to clean"
    Ask what you need to be doing, don't be a pest about it, just try to find out more about what the days job entails, if nothing else you may pick up some of the lingo.
    Lastly, chock it up as a learning experience. Make sure your next employer knows that you have "ZERO" field experience but are very eager to learn...

    Sorry for your troubles. Don't get discouraged. more importantly, try to forget about it.

    GT
    If a day goes by and you have learned nothing, I hope you got a lot of sleep.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    St. Louis
    Posts
    3,486
    Quote Originally Posted by GT Jets View Post
    If the person you were working with knew you were "green" then he should feel ashamed of himself.

    Now.... That being said. I can't stand it when a newbie just stands around with his thumb up his butt and does not ask what he could be doing.

    Some examples are...

    Try to figure out what tools will be needed next and have them "at the ready" when the time comes...
    Pick up bits of trash while experiencing "down time", we use "if you got time to lean, you got time to clean"
    Ask what you need to be doing, don't be a pest about it, just try to find out more about what the days job entails, if nothing else you may pick up some of the lingo.
    GT
    I'm still trying to shake a good amount of resentment towards our senior techs and I think you've managed to nail it and rub salt in an open wound at the same time.

    I was as green as you can get two years ago so it's all still very fresh. I'm very adament that the bulk of the responsibilty of initial training rests squarely on the shoulders of the experienced installers. All I can bring you as a newbie is willingness, a basic awareness of what everything is and a reasonable attitude - which my people quickly soured...in record time. And I'm no young buck; I've had many years to mature, mold and temper my attitude.

    So how often do you expect a newbie to ask how he can help before he is pestering? Where is that line? Because I absolutely made a point to ask at least three times because my guys totally freaking ignored me. I recall feeling about three inches tall. Here I am, did everything required to get to this point and suddenly, at the whim of some piece of work lead installer with severe attitude issues (b*tching about the job, the equipment, the boss, the salesman, talking on the cell phone over some home crisis), I am being taught nothing. Might as well not even be there.

    Then it gets back to the boss that while I am eager to help and respond quickly and helpfully to all requests; I also lack initiative and am argumentative. Really!!!??? I lack initiative because I don't know what the hell is supposed to happen next and they are being about as instructive as a GD rock? I'm argumentative because I ask detailed questions? Feeling a little insecure you POS, half *zzed hack of an installer? In fairness to the rest of you, my outfit is rife with personal conflicts and baggage and is probably an extreme example.

    Well...clearly I'm not over it completely. I don't mind telling you it really stung and made for some horrible days for me, sometimes contemplating leaving the company or even the industry. Ultimately I chose revenge served nice and cold. Just by pushing thru, learning and working well. It also does not hurt that I have now been behind each and every one of them a couple times, fixing their mistakes. And without a doubt, you guys and this site made all the difference in the world - I could not say that enough!

    Now a couple years later they want to joke about it. And everytime they do I'll intentionally walk right past a pile of scrap, hands completely free, on my way to my truck. Or they'll ask me to hand them their bag at the foot of a latter and I'll ignore them the same damn way they did me until they whine "aw c'mon, dammit...just hand me the damn bag will ya...?"

    I suspect this is why I'm 95% service during the busy months and that suits me just fine. It's also curious that if I'm not scheduled to work during the slow months and the installers feel overwhelmed with a job, they will request me and call me out to the job. Though sometimes I suspect it's just to have me do the outside work on a bitterly cold day. Gotta be careful with that revenge stuff - it can come back in a hurry. Whatever - so now I know I can sweat pipe in frigid blustery conditions.

    Why not just be frank with new helpers and tell them what's expected. Just tell them keep your hands out and ready, never go back and forth to the working area empty handed, gonna need the nitro in a few and you can put the ox/acet rig away...pump comes next, gonna need some electricity and extension cord etc. Is it so freaking hard to talk out loud while you are doing something you've done literally thousands of times?

    If they fail to respond it's on them. If you ain't makin' the effort, pal...it's on you.

    I know...I'm done - sorry about the hissy fit reply.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Dublin, CA
    Posts
    121
    Why not just be frank with new helpers and tell them what's expected. Just tell them keep your hands out and ready, never go back and forth to the working area empty handed, gonna need the nitro in a few and you can put the ox/acet rig away...pump comes next, gonna need some electricity and extension cord etc. Is it so freaking hard to talk out loud while you are doing something you've done literally thousands of times?
    Because I shouldn't have to tell the helper what to do all the freaking time. Pay attention to the order things are done and get them done before I need them.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    St. Louis
    Posts
    3,486
    Quote Originally Posted by Kobe RBVBD View Post
    Because I shouldn't have to tell the helper what to do all the freaking time. Pay attention to the order things are done and get them done before I need them.
    Understood and agree if it's an ongoing issue. But you damn well better do it the first few times if he's right out of the gate - otherwise the problem is you.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    20
    The owner of the company told me that my trip off a ladder last year was $60,000 and was stand on the 3rd rung from the top of a 10 foot was $60,000

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    203
    After 2 weeks he definitely wasn't in the union yet. I would think that an employer would believe that after graduating trade school you would know enough not to put his company at risk for either a fine or lawsuit. It could have been a test to see how you handled it, and you failed. Now learn from it. read through all OSHA regulating to HVAC, and particularly to anything having to do with working off the ground. At our company we had a union trained employee who also was OSHA trained in ladder safety. Was standing on top of an OSHA approved ladder with all the warning signs attached. There was a video camera in the MER room he was working in that showed him on the top of the ladder, totally against company policy, and he fell off. Our insurance company advised us that because of his stupidity our insurance will have to pay out over a million dollars and our rates will go up accordingly.

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