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Discussion Starter #1
We did a job in a pretty nasty spot awhile ago. As soon as my Jman got the call he warned me my stomachs better be tough lol. Nicest old man you’d ever meet but wow the place. Start off his doctor called us and said he hasn’t been eating properly because his stove wasn’t working so they went out and bought a new one. The new one didn’t work either so they called us. It’s a trailer maybe from the 60’s or early 70’s. He has 5 cats ,not friendly kitties but hide then run for their lives when you get too close. They mess everywhere and I mean everywhere, and there’s serious rodent problems as well and they mess everywhere as well. When we got there soon as you open the door the odour nearly knocked you over. We pulled the oven back to check the voltage at the range receptical and had to put cardboard down in the kitchen floor because of the cat/rat droppings all over the floor before kneeling down to unplug it. The tin receptacle was completely rusted from the mess so we used our linesman to rip it off. Only power on one leg. Climbed and crawled through mess to get to the panel and sure enough there was only power on one leg there as well. He has horse manure forked up all around the outside of the trailer for insulation and the old trailer had cabtire as a service entrance and it was embedded in the manure. There was 120 on both legs at the service so we knew the rodents must have chewed 1/2 the service off in the manure pile insulation.
We ran a new feed from the disconnect at the pole using tec cable and right through the wall and to the panel. The service pole was even half broke off and propped up with fence posts. We replaced the range receptacle and he was back in business. Glad we could help the old guy out but wow wow wow. Anyone care to share any anonymous experiences?
 

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If you saw rodent droppings, must be some lazy cats in there!

I have had several that in hindsight I would have left. I've had to put tarps down on the floor due to all the animal hair, feces, etc. so I could get down to take a receptacle out. Worst was a mobile home/trailer with feces everywhere and I don't think it was animals. It was a rental and I had to tell the people in there to shut up fussing and cussing or I was going to leave. If it hadn't been cold, I would have left soon as I walked in. I labeled the land lord in my phone as "do not answer"!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If you saw rodent droppings, must be some lazy cats in there!

I have had several that in hindsight I would have left. I've had to put tarps down on the floor due to all the animal hair, feces, etc. so I could get down to take a receptacle out. Worst was a mobile home/trailer with feces everywhere and I don't think it was animals. It was a rental and I had to tell the people in there to shut up fussing and cussing or I was going to leave. If it hadn't been cold, I would have left soon as I walked in. I labeled the land lord in my phone as "do not answer"!
That’s a clever contact name lol I’ll have to remember that one!
 

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Electrical Contractor
Trying to retire or at least slow down a bit, but life not cooperating
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cockroaches!
wife made me strip bareass naked in the yard before she would let me in the house
 

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Elechicken!
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FYI:
What are the steps involved in a work refusal process?
Step 1
Workers must report the work refusal to their supervisor and explain why they believe the work is dangerous. The supervisor and worker must work together to assess the risk and resolve the concern. If unsure, it is often helpful to engage human resources or other technical experts during this stage. The worker is required to remain at the workplace during the work refusal process.

Step 2
If the supervisor and the worker are unable to agree on a resolution, the worker must refer the matter to the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee or the Safety Representative to help assess the situation and attempt to resolve the issue.

Step 3
If the situation cannot be resolved and the worker still feels the work is dangerous for them to perform, Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) can be contacted to investigate the work refusal. OHS considers the worker’s right to refuse unsafe work a high priority and every attempt is made to respond quickly.
____

I would consider a site such as the one you described as a health and safety issue and refused the job... I'm not going to risk my health over one job. Sure, you could wear a mask and gloves, but it sounds like there's multiple issues there that could lead to different issues... Don't even mention what would happen if you needed to pull a permit and have an inspector enter that residence...

As for refusing work, I don't recall having turned down a service call to date yet.. Although I am changing panels in 100 apartments right now, so I may come across one or two that I will have to turn down. I even had to do a service call in the COVID section of a hospital and happily walked into it... Mind you I'll do service calls that no one else wants to do, but when it comes to biohazards... That's where I draw the line...

Cockroaches, well, my apartment building has them, so I don't really have to worry about bringing them home (I DO have to worry about bringing them TO work though).

I've even worked in a tunnel that's not designed for human life, with a diesel generator running in it, to hook up a saw to the generator... I didn't stay long, CO poisoning doesn't take long in that environment...
 

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Chief Flunky
Field Service Engineer
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Just remember that the money is the same color, and that someone is going to do that job. You have a choice to make. In the past month, I've worked on a generator that runs on landfill gas, a blood meal plant, a a couple sewage plants, a landfill (different job), a scrap yard, more than one hospital, and two feed mills. They ALL stink. You don't "get used to it" but you do reach a point where you just learn to ignore whatever you smell. And yes, people can be pigs too. It's just hard to get over the idea in your mind that people are just as filthy and nasty as any other animal.

And I agree with the other guy. If there are rodent feces around those cats are overfed. You shouldn't feed them more than enough to keep them coming back for the food. They should be finding the rest on their own. If you overfeed them they just get lazy and crap all over.
 

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My first year in the trade we got a call to an old house to add some receptacles in the kitchen. Plumber was there because the kitchen sink had been dumping underneath the house for “10 years” and it was nasty. I never even looked, told my jw they could fire me but I wasn’t going under there and He was more than welcome to go. We left.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
FYI:
What are the steps involved in a work refusal process?
Step 1
Workers must report the work refusal to their supervisor and explain why they believe the work is dangerous. The supervisor and worker must work together to assess the risk and resolve the concern. If unsure, it is often helpful to engage human resources or other technical experts during this stage. The worker is required to remain at the workplace during the work refusal process.

Step 2
If the supervisor and the worker are unable to agree on a resolution, the worker must refer the matter to the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee or the Safety Representative to help assess the situation and attempt to resolve the issue.

Step 3
If the situation cannot be resolved and the worker still feels the work is dangerous for them to perform, Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) can be contacted to investigate the work refusal. OHS considers the worker’s right to refuse unsafe work a high priority and every attempt is made to respond quickly.
____

I would consider a site such as the one you described as a health and safety issue and refused the job... I'm not going to risk my health over one job. Sure, you could wear a mask and gloves, but it sounds like there's multiple issues there that could lead to different issues... Don't even mention what would happen if you needed to pull a permit and have an inspector enter that residence...

As for refusing work, I don't recall having turned down a service call to date yet.. Although I am changing panels in 100 apartments right now, so I may come across one or two that I will have to turn down. I even had to do a service call in the COVID section of a hospital and happily walked into it... Mind you I'll do service calls that no one else wants to do, but when it comes to biohazards... That's where I draw the line...

Cockroaches, well, my apartment building has them, so I don't really have to worry about bringing them home (I DO have to worry about bringing them TO work though).

I've even worked in a tunnel that's not designed for human life, with a diesel generator running in it, to hook up a saw to the generator... I didn't stay long, CO poisoning doesn't take long in that environment...
i can just imagine. I’m in my mid 40’s and we dairy farmed my whole life up till a couple of years ago. There’s not much in the way of gross smelly situations I haven’t done and it has to be really bad before it bothers me. Most homes we work in are for the most part really good it’s just the rare one we see that turns my stomach. I’m used to farm animals choosing to be filthy but I’m slowly adjusting to humans choosing to be the same.
 

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In bc in order to resell a trailer you need to certify the wiring. I was the guy doing the recertification. It was in the country and the power had been cut off for non payment so no running water. The guy had come home from getting hammered and threw up in the kitchen sink and left it there for the entire 3 days I worked there. The kitchen sink area needed a bunch of work so I worked next to this guys puke for 3 days.
 

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Around here all the older houses were set up so you could come home from working in the mine into the basement, shower and change before you came upstairs. I'll get so dirty in the older industrial plants that I'll cover my truck seat with something to drive home, then go in the basement and clean up like the miners did. Sometimes I'll have to take the clothes to the laundromat for an industrial strength cleaning, I have even expensed clothes to jobs if they got ruined.

Of course that's nothing compared to this story, there's a big difference between dirty and nasty.

I started one routine little commercial job where the first ceiling tile I lifted, a waterfall of rat / mouse poop came cascading down onto the desk and floor below. It took a minute before I and the people in the office figured out what it was then there was PANDEMONIUM, people gagging, screeching, etc., it was awesome. I peeked up there and the whole area was a filthy minefield. I told them they'd have to have maintenance take the ceiling down, I couldn't work up there without totally disrupting the workplace. Never went back.

This kind of thing, you just have to remember it gets to a point where it's a safety issue. I learned that on a job that wasn't all that dirty, but I was handling some insulation that had had squirrels nesting in it. Turns out squirrels carry some really nasty diseases, everyone on the job got violently sick. (I always hated those bushy tailed rats, now even more.)

So if it's really nasty, if I can dodge the bullets, I'll do it in Tyvek coveralls etc., which I'm changing in and out of on the clock, and which are getting billed to the job of course. Otherwise someone's going to clean up first before I am going in there, I can clean and bill for it, or you can call someone in to clean ahead of me. This one, I make sure I am very clear they're paying my top rate for cleaning, not a discount rate, I will do it but at a premium, not at a discount.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited by Moderator)
In bc in order to resell a trailer you need to certify the wiring. I was the guy doing the recertification. It was in the country and the power had been cut off for non payment so no running water. The guy had come home from getting hammered and threw up in the kitchen sink and left it there for the entire 3 days I worked there. The kitchen sink area needed a bunch of work so I worked next to this guys puke for 3 days.
That takes first prize in above the call of duty in my books!
 

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Ms Maloney. I was a helper so didn't have a choice to walk away and keep my job. The house was overly cluttered and she had at least 15 cats living indoors. Smelled like amonia in there. Nasty nasty nasty.
 

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I would go as far as to refuse the job and call out a social worker to help get that person out of that living condition.
There is no excuse for allowing a human being to live such filth.
That whole trailer needs to be removed and burned to the ground or whatever they do with them.
I will work in dirty and disgusting commercial operations but to see someone living in such filth is a whole other level of responsibility. The OP mentioned the customer's doctor called about the customer not eating due to the stove. I would call their office and describe the living conditions and demand they take more action than calling out an electrician.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I would go as far as to refuse the job and call out a social worker to help get that person out of that living condition.
There is no excuse for allowing a human being to live such filth.
That whole trailer needs to be removed and burned to the ground or whatever they do with them.
I will work in dirty and disgusting commercial operations but to see someone living in such filth is a whole other level of responsibility. The OP mentioned the customer's doctor called about the customer not eating due to the stove. I would call their office and describe the living conditions and demand they take more action than calling out an electrician.
It’s really sad,the doctor was actually at the trailer with us. He also has a dog and 2 horses. The doctors been trying for years to get him out but he won’t leave so he’s doing his best to tend to him there. I don’t think he has any living family. If social services were called it’d be the end of the old gent.
 

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I would go as far as to refuse the job and call out a social worker to help get that person out of that living condition.
There is no excuse for allowing a human being to live such filth.
That whole trailer needs to be removed and burned to the ground or whatever they do with them.
I will work in dirty and disgusting commercial operations but to see someone living in such filth is a whole other level of responsibility. The OP mentioned the customer's doctor called about the customer not eating due to the stove. I would call their office and describe the living conditions and demand they take more action than calling out an electrician.
Amen Brother could not agree more. I ran into this many times in North Florida as we were contracted to replace 1100 FPE services in city owned housing. Sure made me count my blessings....so sad
 

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I have found that the local inspectors work very well with the Fire, Police and other social agencies when they come across a situation like this. Recently I was on a job where the building inspector was doing an annual inspection of an apartment, who ended up calling the FD who ended calling ESA.

That situation was not quite as bad as you describe, although I have had a few of those also. The problem that I struggle with is that typically the people in these situations, are the ones that need our services the most (for safety usually) are are usually the ones to least afford our services. It generally costs the same to put a receptacle in a rat infested hoarder house dive as it does in a million dollar dog house, but typically people in those situations can't pay.

So I think you have to make a corporate decision whether to do it or not. It is not likely the single service call will make or break the company, but you are making a decision based on a social situation and not a financial situation to assist this client out. As the owner, you need to also assess how this decision affects your men as they are going to be doing the work in the these conditions. You might be there too, I usually am in these jobs, but you know your guys are going to be knee deep in it, perhaps literally.

Cheers
John
 

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I thought I had it bad when I moved a ceiling tile and got rained on with mouse poo.

Good on ya for helping out but if they can afford a new stove and an electrician, they can afford a cleaning crew first. It's hard to know for sure but I think I'd have refused that one.
 

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I was in a house once that was a move-on, it had come from a farm yard somewhere. I was attempting to open the attic access to have a look and it wouldn't budge. I got my shoulder into it and then it finally broke loose, and rained pigeon crap on me. The pile at the bottom of my ladder when I stepped off was 3' tall, it just wouldn't stop pouring out. I wish I had saved the pictures. They had to have a vac-truck come in and suck it all out, it was 2' deep in places. Some of the interior wall cavities were open to the attic (no top plate), and those walls were 100% floor to ceiling filled with crap and pigeon carcasses.

I also had one where I removed a light fixture while I had a cold, so I was mouth breathing. When I pulled it down a mouse carcass fell out of the box and landed in my mouth. Didn't really have a taste, it was more the idea of it that bothered me.

Also had a few calls where it would take a week to just remove enough stuff to access the electrical panel, and a few that were just plain nasty.

My father-in-law was a plumber, and he used to carry a bottle of cologne in his lunch-box. He would dab some under his nose before going into a place he knew would be particularly fun.

Ahh, the joys of service work.
 

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Yeah I went to a similar place where the man was known as Peter Catpee. He was a simple, older man who ran a farm his whole life and was illiterate and not very bright and had some other issues I'm not sure about. He called us to fix the oven. Inside were over a dozen cats and the smell of the cat pee burned your eyes. There was cat **** and litter all over the house and to pull the oven out it had a stack of doody behind it. The drywall was rotting from the ground up because it was soaked in pee. Turns out the oven burner just needed a new element so we got it for him.
 
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