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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
got my foot into the door, am happy at work except there's always one bad apple in the tree...

Luckily I have the best supervisor, and only one bad coworker who seems to find a possible ways to scream or have dissatisfaction with me or my work.

it was only my second week, and I have no clue what to do, where is his tool, or some tool names I get confused with. (granted it's my fault for not knowing every tools)
I did not know how to hold a ladder correctly, or try to help to place the ladder(I cannot place the ladder if he doesn't tell me where to place it), but instead of teaching me, he gets too impatient, calls supervisor, even went as far up as trying to fire me by talking to the boss...saying that I don't care about safety of my own or anyone else's.

my supervisor who likes me, and my work ethics, defends me saying that i am new, my coworker has to teach me, and have patience with me.

1. I expected some shouting and some scolding, but going to the boss and trying to fire a person? I just wonder if this is normal or abnormal in this industry?

2. After the 5th year, I hear there is a test that allows you to enter the uni for engineering, I was wondering about the difficulties about the exam given a lot of electricians don't take that route.

3. Back injuries common for our job? Another coworker had two discs pulled, I am starting to have back pains, supervisor already called a day off before due to the back pain.
 

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Industrial Electrician, Class A
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1/ our helpers are normally a reflection of our ability to teach. So if the helper is useless we take the blame for not training them correctly.
It gets frustrating especially with the younger crowd who need to be taught everything (we had shop classes when we were in school so we learnt how to use our hands)

2/ The job chooses you. If you have no interest in that field you wont get far. If you find it interesting nothing will stop you.

3/ yep back injuries happen when you get old. I have a few engineering friend with worse backs then mine that have never done a hard days work. My back hurts more if a take a few weeks off then when im working so technically work fixes my back issues.
 

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It is the journeyman’s job to teach the apprentice. They don’t explain that part well enough in school, or maybe some people just miss that part of the lesson. If you don’t know that’s OK, you are paid substantially less than a journeyman because it is expected that the job will take substantially longer to get completed, and because training will be required.

If you don’t understand something after someone explained it to you, then they didn’t explain it well enough. (notice this does not reflect poorly upon you, it reflects poorly upon them). If you don’t understand after the explanation then ask for clarification until you do understand. They can find a different way to explain it until they find a way that makes sense.

When you are in school you are learning the theory and the math. The teacher is there to teach that to you.

On the job site you learn practical and mechanical skills. Your journeyman is there to teach you that.

You are not the journeyman’s slave, they are to delegate tasks to you that are within your ability. They are to make sure you know how to do those tasks properly. Most importantly they are to make sure you can do those tasks SAFELY. But is is your responsibility to follow the procedures properly so that you protect yourself from getting hurt.

Your body is not to be sacrificed in exchange for money. You sell your skill and knowledge in exchange for a pay cheque. You do not sell your health, ever. It is the employers job to pay for the protective equipment for those jobs to happen and they don’t happen until you are safe AND feel safe to do the job. If you don’t feel safe then stop and assess why. Being scared will only lead to accidents.

Pay attention and ask questions… lots of questions. Don’t stop asking questions. Challenge the answers if you understood it differently so that you can understand where the confusion was. Research lots.

Welcome to the trade!
 

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Yelling is a sign of inadequacy in the workplace. I told my kids when they worked for me. If you did it wrong, it was because I didn’t teach you well enough. Never yelled, I wouldn’t work with other contractors that belittled their workers. Nope, don’t need to be exposed to that crap. When I first started in the trade, I made sure I knew more than the “bad apples”. I shortly had a reputation as someone not to tangle with, unless you wanted to look like a fool. Be prepared, know your s h i t, learn it. Spend your time off learning it. Read everything, devour manuals, learn! You come prepared, and the guy will either back off, or start to pull crap that gets him fired.
 

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1) You have the right to a safe and respectful workplace. This goes for your emotional/mental health as much as it does for your physical health. You will likely have the unpleasant experience of working with some miserable and bitter individuals that tell you that the new generation is a bunch of nancy boys but chances are they are just as unpleasant with their family and friends(if they have any). I personally don't think that shouting should ever be tolerated and is rarely ever productive. In my experience the people yelling are usually those who can't take responsibility for their actions and blame it on the people around them.
Blaming your apprentice is generally a bad idea. As a journeyman my responsibility is to ensure that my apprentice is doing things properly. I am responsible for making sure they have the tools, material, and knowledge to do the task. I am equally responsible for the results of their work. If I don't explain something properly or forget an important detail then that's on me.
There is a certain amount of base knowledge that you can reasonably expect but it's not much.

Last week I was working with a final year apprentice and I let him go on his own for a few days and then it turns out that he ran a pipe into the wrong box. My apprentice, my responsibility even though he could easily have been working by himself and done the same thing. What would yelling at him have accomplished? My mistake was that I didn't make sure he knew where he was going and that I didn't double check his work after he was done.

Your job is to ask as many questions as you need to. Don't hesitate to ask the same question multiple times if you forget the answer. I find it very helpful to keep a notepad with me because I tend to forget things if I don't write them down. Being an apprentice is just as much learning about things and how to work with others as it is learning how to work with yourself. You will start to figure out the best ways to work for you and what you are and aren't good at.

3) Mild back pains are common for people who are on their feet all day. When you are working and lifting things you should always try to use your legs. They are much stronger than your upper body and it's the single best way to avoid hurting your back. Also try and avoid lifting things in general if you can avoid it. Don't be shy to take time to reposition yourself correctly or to see if you can put the object on wheels so you can avoid having to lift it at all. Dollies are very useful. Also exercises that strengthen your core are important to be able to take the some of the stress off of your spine. Try and stretch to touch your toes for 30 seconds, 3 times a day and it will help keep you pain-free.
If the boss doesn't like how long it takes to get things done then they are free to hire more guys or organize things more efficiently. The more of a rush you are in the more mistakes you will make and most importantly the more likely it is that you will get hurt.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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It's not going to be fun working with a difficult person but even that is an opportunity to learn something - learning to handle difficult people is a necessary skill, he won't be the last I guarantee. I just wouldn't tolerate getting stuck with the bad apple too long to the extent that it interferes with your learning the trade. If your supervisor seems to understand and be in your corner and that's all well and good, but keep in mind they share some of the blame for not bringing the bad apple up to par, if the guy's as bad as you say why isn't he gone or fixed?

As for the back - there are some design flaws in the human form, the lower back is one of them. Active people get backaches but sedentary people do too. There is a lot you can do to avoid back problems and prevent little back problems from developing into big back problems. There is a cumulative effect as you get older, too. Keeping adequate flexibility, strength in the right places, and learning good biomechanics takes effort but pays off, really it's an investment.

One of the most important things to do for your back is, don't try to turn your day's work into the World's Strongest Man contest. You should almost never really be straining at work, effort yes but pace yourself and find a way to do it without straining. Humping materials like a mine mule is sometimes necessary but it's usually better to work like a gentleman, get a cart, a hand truck, a dolly, or etc. Remember, a pro makes it look easy.
 

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Sub transient reactance X”d worshiper.
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I do not meant to disrespectful to your issues but this will be continuous if you do not change something.

We cannot control the other persons emotions or reaction. Only our own reactions, with the ability to keep composure with in. Regulating our expressions is a constant internal battle. No mater how old you get.

I have seen many work place violence in the 70's and 80,s between other trades. jobs lost and some not so lost, due to not being able to control ones self. Not that I'm saying this will happen to you, but be aware of it. you do not know what's in the heart of a person till they show it, usually in a tense situation it will come out.

You will find persons come and go depending on project and prosperity of the area. Keep a sharp cool head and you will do good.

Now for learning. School, tools, persons instructing you on the job. at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the student to master the (lessons/material) to become proficient. No mater how (good/Bad) the instructor!!

That being said.... the internet is a great resource for tool searches, product descriptions and demonstrations.

look to other sources for the trade education, pre buy the level modules to study at home to beef up the week areas and prep you for school, if not high on cash flow buy the expired modules. (physics/science) will never change only code sections change, very cheap from persons that have taken the courses and are done with them.

The math is the other item that is a big contention with apprentices. so start now. even at work use it on the job and ask question always ask questions. if the person cannot answer. ask some one who will.

or use this site and ask here. there are many quality trades persons on the site that will help.

sorry for off topic but some thing need to be said and some things need to be read.

keep you chin up and have fun.
 

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It's not going to be fun working with a difficult person but even that is an opportunity to learn something - learning to handle difficult people is a necessary skill, he won't be the last I guarantee. I just wouldn't tolerate getting stuck with the bad apple too long to the extent that it interferes with your learning the trade. If your supervisor seems to understand and be in your corner and that's all well and good, but keep in mind they share some of the blame for not bringing the bad apple up to par, if the guy's as bad as you say why isn't he gone or fixed?

As for the back - there are some design flaws in the human form, the lower back is one of them. Active people get backaches but sedentary people do too. There is a lot you can do to avoid back problems and prevent little back problems from developing into big back problems. There is a cumulative effect as you get older, too. Keeping adequate flexibility, strength in the right places, and learning good biomechanics takes effort but pays off, really it's an investment.

One of the most important things to do for your back is, don't try to turn your day's work into the World's Strongest Man contest. You should almost never really be straining at work, effort yes but pace yourself and find a way to do it without straining. Humping materials like a mine mule is sometimes necessary but it's usually better to work like a gentleman, get a cart, a hand truck, a dolly, or etc. Remember, a pro makes it look easy.
We have a saying around here, Use your head and save your back. I more often than not work solo so I have to come up with ways to keep the job moving forward but not hurt myself.
In addition to Splatz’s hand truck, I use a 1/4 ton mini chain fall quite often. If I need to change a 15 hp motor on a compressor, I first find a place to hang my hoist, whether it’s directly off iron work or a temporary beam of wood or pipe in the iron work to lift. I no longer do Superman lifting after two hernia surgeries.
I’ve lifted pipe and conduit back into place carefully with the hoist and restrap it securely, and to hang xformers on walls
list goes on and on.

While typing out this response, I was thinking about compressors which are my bane, and how I’ve shown numerous guys a short cut method to tighten drive belts where a built in way to tension them isn’t there. This also works on fans and most other belt driven items.
Loosen the motor bolts, on the side of the motor farthest from the load back them off until you can get a beater screwdriver between the motor base and the plate it attaches to, wedging it up maybe a 1/4”. Pull the motor by hand to tighten the belts without too much strain, then snug down the bolts closest to the load. Pull out the screwdriver and the motor will likely hang there. Tighten down those bolts and the belts will tighten up with little back breaking effort.
Sorry @splatz about my rambling quote hijack.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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In addition to Splatz’s hand truck, I use a 1/4 ton mini chain fall quite often. If I need to change a 15 hp motor on a compressor, I first find a place to hang my hoist, whether it’s directly off iron work or a temporary beam of wood or pipe in the iron work to lift.
If you don't have a chian fall, I found something very handy for lighter jobs. I bought this rope hoist at Tractor supply, not bad quality and made in USA

Tuf-Tug Rope Hoist Block and Tackle, 3/8 in. Rope, TTRH700-50 at Tractor Supply Co.

This hoist pretty much halves the weight of what you're lifting, and it's very easy to rig.

(BTW to the OP, this post isn't for you, working safely with this kind of rigging is something you would work up to later, not now.)
 

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Estwing magic
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The difficulty with working for a screamer is that the helper can lose track of what’s important and run around desperately trying to do the right thing. Your priority is to keep yourself level headed and to repetitively take a few seconds to slow down and think. I use the example of throwing a door open and hitting a guy on a ladder on the other side. The proper thing to do is to open the door a crack to make sure it’s safe to open it fully.

If this guy is yelling at you and trying to get you fired, you’re not the first one. His problems are his problems. If the problem persists, put in your time, get some experience and move on. My first job as a starter was with an intolerant hard head and I lasted two weeks. I moved on to another contractor and was there for almost two years before leaving to get more trade experience.
 

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I read somewhere that most back problems are not due to a single incident, but a lifetime of bad back habits. In other words, if you slouch, you'll be fine until one day you're not fine anymore. Proper form is crucial when lifting. I hope you never get tricked into the muscle man game.
Check out the book by John Carroll.
Lots of good advice in this thread. Remember that angry people can be dangerous- usually in the form of accidents.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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I read somewhere that most back problems are not due to a single incident, but a lifetime of bad back habits. In other words, if you slouch, you'll be fine until one day you're not fine anymore. Proper form is crucial when lifting. I hope you never get tricked into the muscle man game.
Check out the book by John Carroll.
Lots of good advice in this thread. Remember that angry people can be dangerous- usually in the form of accidents.
That is a GREAT book.
 

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Hey man when I was younger my second ever journeyman was a screamer. Things I'd wish done include telling the boss how much I was enjoying the work but couldn't work with that guy (young me avoided even the slightest bit of confrentation), I wish I found creative ways to tell him to go **** himself (he backed down a bit when I showed attitude but I was too soft to maintain it and he redoubled his coniptions)

at worst, stay long enough to get your first year papers in order with the local governing body and then jump ship, but only as a last resort. I've found that when negotiating i.e. asking for a new JW, or telling this guy to sort himself out; if met with a negative response, just ask again, like right then and there, rephrase or dont it's up to you.

As for the back pain yes remember to lift with your legs and not your back, what that means is not bending at the hips. Even for a screwdriver get used to doing half and full squats. Unless carrying something I breathe out when I drop down so my back doesnt hinge over my full lungs, I inhale on the way up to help straighten my body. If your are loaded keep your shoulder blades together, flexed abs will brace your lower back and engage those glutes.

Poor fitting clothes can hurt your your back over time (less time than you think) too. Too tight around the legs or waist and youl be discouraged from squatting and will make constantly have you wanting to bend over for things. Too loose around the waist and you will be subconsciously adjusting your gait to keep then in place, pants should fit without a belt, belts should be just the final touch with loaded cargo pants or a day of walking. Speaking of belts the best investment I made was when I ditched my homemade leather belt and got an elastic one that flexes with me.

Hitting the weights especially with a good coach can strengthen your body and even if you stop after a few months the transferable lifting skills and techniques will be with you forever.


Last thing, stretching and foam rolling are A way of life. I stretch pretty much between every class, a quick but not so quick I hurt myself touch of the toes, stretching my fingers back if I'm holding a drill, or anything that comes to mind, keeps the body limber, great way to avoid workplace accidents. Nobody's bothered me yet.

at home I've got a foam roller, a few minutes with that on my hips and any murmurs of back pain disappear from my day, alot if pain can just be due to tension elsewhere intthe body. Take a few yoga classes, hot yoga if it doesnt seem hard enough for you. They are a great way to unwide after a week of work, after a few dozen youl remember to poses and stretches so you can save the money and do it at home, plus a good instructor will juxtapose the difficulty of the class with a guided meditation, a great way to clear out the dregs leftover by dickheads at work.

It seems I came full circle there lol, sorry for writing a book but those are two things I'm passionate about. good luck :)
 

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2. After the 5th year, I hear there is a test that allows you to enter the uni for engineering, I was wondering about the difficulties about the exam given a lot of electricians don't take that route.
Good advice by the others. Regarding engineering school, yes, some schools will count electrician school as a substitute for some university engineering courses. To get an engineering degree there is a list of 45+ specific classes to complete. It is up to you to prove that you have already completed the equivalent of some of these classes. Curriculums change all the time so there is no definitive answer or test. In general, being an ticketed electrician is a very inefficient path toward an engineering degree. In my experience, very little of your electrician training counts toward an engineering degree despite the excellent experience and real-world application.

My advice is... if you want to go into engineering school, do it right away. If you have any other questions, I'd be happy to help. Send me a DM.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hello, I ve finally had sometime to look at this post...so many things have passed...my company's project is done but i am laid off. As for the back problem I am suspecting it's been a long time issue of mine from grade 12 (had to legally choose to drop out of highschool since I couldn't attend school for 5months), when i got a car crash, and working at a car factory for 6 months before, hence even though I do enjoy this job, being laid off, constant back pains, I am looking at alternative ways of getting a job. :( Thank you for all the advice, I am gonna look at the book too
 
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