When to say "NO", how to say "NO", and the jobs you have said "NO" to...
The word "No". It's quite possibly the first word we learn as children but now that we are grown adults it's quite possibly the word we hate to hear the most.
We have all worked for them, the boss that treats you as a number, whether it be a truck number, sales number, or profit for the company number you are just a number. These are the bosses that put you at risk and can get you hurt or worse, killed. So how exactly do you protect yourself against these types of people? The word "No".
I was in the trade for maybe 10yrs when I met my 1st "numbers boss", he was a real wanker and pushed the company line firm and hard. He was the type of guy that would keep you from seeing your sons 1st baseball game to run a service call because it had been on the books since 9am and the dispatcher had forgotten about it, to him it was all about the money, no human compassion what so ever. It was a Friday afternoon around 3pm, the first warm day of spring and you are itching to get done with work to start a great weekend of warm weather, I call in to clear my last call and tell them to have a nice weekend when he comes over the Nextel and advises me that they had one more call on the books and I would need to run it, I am heated but drive across town to get someone some A/C.....
It was a 10 story condo building and by the time I arrived the sky's to the west had gotten dark, it was a typical mid spring thunderstorm rolling in as they do every year here in Ohio. As I took the elevator to the 9th floor and introduced myself to the customer the storm had closed within a mile of the building. The customer explained that the A/C stopped working a week ago (typical right? Wait until Friday to call) and they had no idea what was wrong. I went through my standard indoor procedures, check the filter, make sure the blower is working, check for a call for cooling, insure the coil isn't a ball of ice, etc... Everything checked out, so off to the roof I go....
To access the roof you needed to take the freight elevator to the 10th floor which was a mechanical penthouse, from there you could walk out on the rubber membrane roof though a set of double doors. As I stepped off the elevator I was rocked by the first clap of thunder and thought to myself, "How lucky you are, this will wait until Monday!" Not according to my boss... I got on the Nextel and rang up Mr. Humanitarian and advised him that due to inclement weather we would have to reschedule, he rudely shot back that this was a high profile customer and we needed to fix the issue at all costs. This is where I could have told him to shove it but I remembered learning from an old timer that you never say "NO" without a solution.... So I gathered my thoughts and keyed up on the mic... "John, I really don't feel safe going out on the roof in a lightening/rain storm in a sea of copper and steel to troubleshoot a live 480v unit, if I am to do this I will need a second person on overtime to insure my safety, a full protective arc flash suit, and I would like to see certification that the lightening rod system on this building is current and in good working order"
Bam! I had beat him at his own game. They were all valid requests and he didn't have much wiggle room, actually he had none because I wasn't going out on that roof no matter what he said. Needless to say he got back on the horn after a 2 minute pause and told me the dispatchers would reschedule it for Monday. That service manager later got a guy hurt by sending him into a house with two aggressive dogs, the tech got chewed up pretty bad and had a legal suit filed against the company. I no longer work with the company because of the manager in question.
The moral of the story is this...
If you feel unsafe DON'T DO THE JOB, WALK AWAY, but before you walk away come up with a solution or even two solutions, that way you don't get blamed for being a lazy tech looking for excuses to not work.
Example: Boss asks you to service a AHU up in a warehouse ceiling 20' high. You have nothing but a extension ladder to reach it but you must balance the ladder against a I-beam next to the unit and lean a good 3' over the rail. Obviously not a good idea. Instead of saying, "F%#$ this my boss is a dirty a##hole" Gather you thoughts and call him advising him that you have no safe way to service this unit with what you have, suggest that a man lift with be easier and safer, leave the ball in his court and wait for his response. Now if he comes back and says that a lift just isn't in the budget and the unit needs work today, well then you have to stand your ground and let him know that under no circumstances will you be breaking OSHA rules to service this unit and you leave it at that.
Remember folks, no job is worth losing your health or life....
So, what kind of calls have you refused to run because of safety? I could write a book on some on the ones I have said no to.