Thursday, July 3, 2014

firing contractors

A comment on the previous post raised the issue of "firing" drillers/drilling companies. We all have different tolerance levels for bullshit from contractors. I look young (read: inexperienced), I'm a bit of a crier, and I can be a perfectionist about the standards I hold the contractors to. This may lead you to think that I kick drillers off-site left and right.

Au contraire. I may be young looking, picky, and sensitive. But I'm also stubborn and forever convinced that I can work with/around anyone. I also haven't worked with that many drillers or other contractors who were unsafe and insubordinate, so if I have to stand on someone and nag them to wear their PPE (personal protective equipment), invite field safety audits (by my firm or theirs), stop them every 20 minutes to change what they're doing, and extend the morning tailgate meeting to an hour-long roundtable discussion, then that's what I'll do.

For projects I manage, I would be a lot more proactive about booting unsafe/difficult drillers, because I wouldn't expect the people working for me to put up with what I'll put up with. I've never had an issue with drillers/other subcontractors on projects I've managed, though. That's probably a numbers issue - I've worked with many more individual drillers/contractors than projects I've managed.

I have not fired or been involved in projects that fired drilling companies. We work out the end of the contract and then go our separate ways. The largest investigations tend to go in phases (and be contracted in phases) as we look at previous results and adjust what the next phase should entail. And that usually means sending out new specifications, and going through the bidding/driller selection process again. That's the point at which I take a hard look at the drilling company's performance. Did we just have one bad egg (and I can request someone else), or is it a larger bad management/culture issue? Maybe we pick someone new next time. If we routinely have problems with a particular drilling firm, we drop them from the bidders list.

I've had very few individual drillers and firms that were unsafe/insubordinate/unable to do the work. Maybe I've just been lucky, but I think that as the environmental industry matures and consolidates, the "rogue" firms and drillers have been pushed out, and the number of "firings" have decreased.

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