- Never Lie. Beyond the moral and ethical aspects of honesty is a practical one, if you get caught lying during deposition or as a witness, you are done professionally. You probably won’t be fired, but every opposing attorney in the area will know what you’ve done and your contest rate will skyrocket. Every DOL attorney will know what you’ve done and they will never take one of your cases to court again, you will have every contested case tossed out.
- Follow the Evidence. Just because you’ve seen something 20 times, doesn’t mean you know what happened the 21st time. Investigate! Use your powers of observation and deductive reasoning to figure out what’s happening every single time as if you’ve never seen the situation before. Very few things are as professionally embarrassing as admitting to a judge that you assumed something.
- Actively listen. When you interview employees don’t go into the interview determined to get yes or no answers to all of your questions. Even if all of the physical evidence gives a clear picture, ask open ended questions and listen not for the words you want to hear, but for words you didn’t expect. Not only will this give you a fuller picture, but you may discover bigger issues.
- Always Keep Your Head on a Swivel. It’s scary how often the forklift operator “didn’t see you” standing there with you hardhat, reflective vest and 9 company reps (all of whom happened to make eye contact with the driver), and suspended loads have a mysterious habit of dropping to shoulder height just as they get close to you.
- Never give advanced notice. This is one of the things that can actually send us to jail, and although I’ve never heard of people actually going to jail, I have heard of people being “reassigned” to other duties, for the rest of their career.
- Never Argue with a Team Member in Public. It’s OK to disagree with fellow CSHOs, it can actually be good for the inspection even, but don’t do it where the company can hear you. If you publicly disagree and the company hears you, they then have an avenue for contesting any citations and you’ll hear “they couldn’t even agree that it was a violation,” in front of the judge.
- Never Equivocate on the Stand or During Deposition. When you’re under oath be firm, “This IS what I saw,” not “I’m pretty sure I saw this.” It’s OK to say “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember, I would need to check my notes or the video.” If you equivocate, you have just introduced doubt, and if the compliance officer is in doubt, what way do you think the judge will rule? Just remember Rule #1 – Never Lie.
- Never Get Angry. No matter how passionate you are, no matter how abusive the employer is, never get angry. If you’re in a situation that is escalating, find a way out of the room, you can not win that argument but you can make it worse.
- Understand Their Anger. A lot of anger directed at you is fake, especially that from opposing attorneys, they’re either testing you or trying to intimidate you so you won’t be as effective. Sometimes people are angry at getting caught doing something they weren’t supposed to (remember fight or flight?). Some people are angry for reasons that have nothing to do with you. There are other possibilities as well, but if you understand the anger you have a chance to diffuse it. Just don’t forget rule #8 - Never Get Angry.
- You Can Never Have Too Many Charged Batteries. This is especially true for equipment junkies, as most IHs seem to be. It’s almost a rite of passage that every new CSHO will, at some point, forget the extra batteries in the middle of the inspection. With any luck the batteries will be in the car instead of back at the office or hotel. When this happens, expect much ridicule, especially from us old timers who have never done anything like that ourselves (I write hoping a bolt of lightening doesn’t strike).
Friday, July 23, 2010
Top 10 Things Young CSHOs Need to Know
Below are my Top 10 Things Every Young CSHO Needs to Know Before They are Let Loose on the World.