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Subject: Stack cleaning project

Stack cleaning project

From: Michael Trinkley <chicora>
Date: Sunday, February 28, 1999
Maria Fredericks asks about the use of outside contractors in a
recovery operation.

As I'm sure others have already explained, most outside contractors
anticipate staffing projects such as this with a minimal number of
staff (trained to some degree) to supervise the major labor force
which will consist of people from the local labor pool. There are
several concerns in such an arrangement. First, how well trained are
the supervisors and are they trained in the care, handling, and
cleaning of your particular type of collection material?  For
example, a supervisor could be very well trained in residential fire
cleanup and that might not be appropriate for your needs.

Second, as with any labor pool, you can expect everything from
careful, diligent, and hard working on down the scale. As a
consequence, you should pay particular attention to the supervisor:
labor pool ratio. We've seen this range from 1:3 to 1:10. Clearly,
this makes a big difference. Likewise, you should insist on a
training program for the labor pool employees, prior to them working
with your collections (in other words, I would discourage "on the
job training.") You might even want to consider insisting on your
staff providing the training module or at least being present.

You should also recognize the need for very careful--and
constant--supervision. I encourage institutions to assign staff to
oversee (with contract administration authority) outside restoration

The original question also implied that the outside contractor was
to be supervised by in-house conservation staff. Some outside
vendors may not be keen on their employees being directly supervised
by your employees--perhaps with good reason. Regardless, since many
of the contractor's employees will be from the labor pool you would
want to ensure that your staff has the experience and personality to
supervisor this kind of employee.

Some outside contractors, since they are paying per diem and lodging
costs for at least their own staffs, like to work multiple shifts.
This may be acceptable, but you need to ensure that there is always
someone from your staff overseeing their work. And you need to
ensure adequate security. And you need to be certain that the
supervisor:labor pool ratio remains constant on all shifts.

In terms of security, especially if shift work is contemplated, who
will be responsible--both for security and also for opening and
closing the building? Is outside security necessary? And what
security measures does the outside contractor intend to implement to
ensure that items aren't taken from the collection?

Naturally, insurance and bonding are equally significant questions.
And by insurance I mean not only liability, but also workers comp.
Depending on the nature of the cleanup you may also be concerned
about health and safety issues, including the training of labor pool
employees, storage and disposal of chemicals, etc.

I don't mean to imply that using outside contractors is a bad idea,
rather I only mean to indicate that, like any vendor, you should
take care to ensure the protection of your collection, staff, and
patrons. Know exactly what you are getting into before you get into
it. Hope these observations are of some assistance,

Michael Trinkley, Ph.D.
Chicora Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 8664
Columbia, SC  29202-8664

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:71
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 3, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-71-005
Received on Sunday, 28 February, 1999

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