General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Annoying Coworkers don't go away, they just get replaced!- the fat lady sings,p4

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Shopaholic:
Many of you might remember my threads about my annoying coworker.
(http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=114426.0)
We had a joint conversation with the PI, each said our piece, agreed to start a fresh leaf and everything has been hunky-dory since. We're even on friendly terms. :)

A similar situation arose this week with a new member of the lab. Let's call him Barney.
Barney is an over zealous Master's student.
BG
Apparatus is heavily used in our lab, and due to the delicate nature of the work it requires and the way it is set up, only one person can work in it at a time. PI's regulations is that the apparatus should be cleaned and sterilized between uses. There are a few exceptions. Apparatus is signed up for, usually at the end of the previous week, usually for long periods of time.
Because of the heavy use Apparatus experiences it is acceptable to talk to the person signed up and try to reach a compromise for its use. Example: if I need the apparatus for 10 minutes while Maddie is signed up for two hours, I can ask her if she has a break when I can use it, bearing in  mind the type of work we are both doing. Lab members are usually very amicable about apparatus use.

I was signed up for Apparatus in advance. I noticed pretty early on that I would need it longer than the original time I had signed up for, and due to the fact that no one was signed up after me, I signed up for more time.

Part of my work required a 40-minute break. I left Apparatus on, with some of my stuff inside. Twenty minutes later I notice that Barney is working with Apparatus! This is unacceptable - if Apparatus is on, and someone's things are inside you do not use Apparatus! It's not just a courtesy - it is important that different types of tasks do not mix.

I asked him if he noticed I was using Apparatus. He replied "yes" without even blinking.

At this moment Maddie shows up, she is mentoring him, and asks him if she is doing the task they planned yesterday. The task they planned uses hazardous materials, and he wasn't abiding by any of the regulations for this type of work! In fact, he should be working behind a closed door - but he had no inclination of even telling me what he was working with until Maddie asked him! This is especially serious in my case because I am pregnant. 

I told him that in our lab there is a reason we sign up for Apparatus, and that since we are all interested in helping each other out we always talk to each other if we need to share items, in the interest of good communication. Maddie told him that they noticed yesterday that I was signed up, and he replied "yes, but you said we would work it out with Shopaholic."
Maddie told him that "working it out" meant "talking to".

Whatever, I told him to get his stuff out NOW because Apparatus needed to be sterilized and I needed to use it in 10 minutes. He said OK, but continued working for another 10 minutes. Due to the cleaning and sterilization required, my experiment was delayed by 15 minutes - which is NOT OK!!

What bugs me the most is that he knew perfectly well that I was working. He showed no regret, no inclination to apologize, and not intent to clear his stuff out once I told him to remove his stuff.

I talked to Maddie later. She was shocked by his behaviour too - not just by his audacity and lack of basic human courtesy and respect, but by the fact that he does not know how to work with hazardous materials and had never worked with them even supervised.

She gave him a talking-to later on, said he was on the verge of tears (but Maddie is a softie, she probably apologized to him). Maddie also intends on filling PI in on what happened, but I don't know if she will eventually. In any case, he hasn't made any attempt to apologize.

Lab Manager knows what happened. I went to PI today and told him that since we had a lot of new people in the lab, it may be worthwhile to review regulations regarding hazardous materials at our group meeting, without going into specifics. He did, but Barney did not bat an eyelash.

Today when I was working in Apparatus, I told Barney that I had a short break, but that I am still working in it. He didn't get it, just said nonchalantly that he didn't need it.

Now I'm wondering if I need to talk to Barney directly, because the more I think of it the angrier I am. Not only at his audacity at taking over something someone else was using, but also for his lack of professionalism and basically putting everyone in the room in danger by not abiding by proper regulations. He seems to think the whole issue was no big deal. In general, you do not do anything in the lab before you are properly taught and supervised.

On the other hand, maybe I just tend to over-react and take these things too hard. His mentor addressed it, it may or may not be discussed with PI - it's not really my job to put him in his place. And yet, in a working/learning environment where there is a good atmosphere of collaboration and mutual help I really do not want to do anything to help Barney out right now - and he frequently asks me questions.

Chocolate chip cookies if you made it so far! I would appreciate your thoughts, seeing as you have been so helpful and insightful in the past!

Thanks so much!

Outdoor Girl:
As a (former) fellow Lab Rat, Barney was so far over the line, he couldn't find it with binoculars.  You never, ever take over someone else's space without clearing it with them first!  And you never work with hazardous materials you don't know how to handle.

The lab I used to work in was very cramped.  So if I wanted to do one test and coworker wanted to do another, there wasn't room for a third coworker to get in and do her thing.  We were self scheduled but discovered this problem one day when we were all trying to use the same space at the same time!  We quickly learned to communicate first thing in the morning and go over who was planning to do what when so we could make sure to not be in each other's way.  Fortunately, the only equipment we shared was the fumehoods and dishwasher.

NyaChan:
I think that the correct people have already addressed the issue.  Unless Barney has done something again to violate proper procedures, I'd keep quiet for now.  If he does cross the line again, then by all means, make it clear to the superiors and to Barney that it is unacceptable. 

Hmmmmm:
Wow.  I don't have much to offer.  One thing I competely amazed at is that people are given access to hazardous chemicals without any type of training or certifcation.  Is there a way that you can talk with Lab Manager about instituting some more stringent policies?  Things like training and certification before they can have access to specific equipment or chemicals?  And have them review and confirm in writing that the understand lab procedures? 

Shopaholic:

--- Quote from: Hmmmmm on November 01, 2012, 02:33:24 PM ---Wow.  I don't have much to offer.  One thing I competely amazed at is that people are given access to hazardous chemicals without any type of training or certifcation.  Is there a way that you can talk with Lab Manager about instituting some more stringent policies?  Things like training and certification before they can have access to specific equipment or chemicals?  And have them review and confirm in writing that the understand lab procedures?

--- End quote ---

It was something he and Maddie had worked on the previous day, so it was continuing work. Barney had attended a lecture two weeks previously regarding this specific type of material. The regulations suggested at the lecture were much stricter than the ones implemented in our lab. For someone who understands the risks, go ahead and work as you want - but don't put everyone else in danger without their knowing it.
PI said today that he expects mentors to fully pass on relevant information to new students in the lab.
According to Maddie they made a plan the previous day to work on their task when she got in.

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