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Tool breakage -- always the responsibility of the horse/farm owner?

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  • Tool breakage -- always the responsibility of the horse/farm owner?

    This is a compilation of a few scenarios over the years, so I'm not really asking for advice on a specific situation at this time. I'm posing it more as a hypothetical or "policy" question.

    If you have someone work on your farm, or care for your horses in any way, presumably they use your equipment or tack, at least for some things.

    If a plastic pitchfork breaks, a plastic hose nozzle cracks, a wheelbarrow comes apart, the stitching on a bridle starts to come undone -- do you always assume this would have happened under your care/use, and take care of the repair yourself?

    Asked a different way... presuming (and this is important) that EVERY OTHER aspect of the person's employment is satisfactory and meets expectations, how many items would have to break while being used by this worker before you started to consider... I don't know what? Asking for replacement? Docking wages? It seems petty until it happens.

    If you ever would bring it up, how would you bring it up and what would YOU want?
    Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.

  • #2
    I used to have teen age barn help. I would take them around and show them "my tools" and warn them that the wrath of God would be upon them if they so much as touched those items. Then I would show them "their" tools. Usually worked very well. Everyone was terrified of me. Then I got "Gus". How many pitchforks( the big heavy kind) can one person break??? After the second one, I told him the next would be deducted from his pay. He broke another, I deducted, and he never broke another implement again. That being said, other things, like the plastic forks, I'm good with replacing, as I know how easily they can go. If I see, however, that something is being misused or abused, it's a different story.
    "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you..."


    • #3
      Most of what you describe is normal wear and tear and I don't think you can hold an employee liable for it. Especially something like leather.

      Some people definitely are harder on equipment than others; several years ago someone used to do stalls for me that seemed to go through a ridiculous amount of plastic pitchfork heads. I was almost at the point of saying "supply your own tools" but held my tongue. We ended up parting ways over other things (like inability to actually clean a stall....) but the fork head thing was driving me crazy.

      I wonder more about employee responsibility for something big and expensive like running a tractor into an expensive automatic door or something like that.


      • #4
        Nobody touches MY TOOLS!!! And out of all the stall cleaners we have had only one was decent, so we just do it ourselves because of the headache and replacement costs. And absolutely no one touches machienery or equipment. And nope I wouldn't replace broken tools for employees.
        Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley


        • #5
          Oh gosh. Part of it's a cost of doing business, it's the circumstances that dictate whether it's excessive. I hate to say but DH and I have ruined more stuff - bushhogged hoses, knocked down fences, ruined nozzles (those are a pet peeve of mine as I can't spend enough money to get a decent one any more, they're all Chinese cr*p so when one gets run over it's not like it was going to last anyway) had tools go missing on the property and needed to replace them or not get done . . . you get the picture.
          Honestly I'd fire one of us, we have some communications/working style issues that make us not the best team.

          And that-working style- is something that I've seen in workplaces too. If the workplace is set up such that there is a peception of a lack of time to complete the "unecessary tasks" like cleaning up and putting away hoses and tools, or there is no designated area, or the other workers are not tidy in their habits you end up with lost and damaged tools.

          At my work we are getting pushing to be more productive and so the time that you spend at the job is what counts - NOT the time spent doing "housekeeping" -but housekeeping is what keeps your tack hanging up instead of dropped in a heap where it was taken off and maybe forgotten and stepped on by steel shoes or nibbled by mice overnight.

          At my trainer's I follow her lead. I dump out a sack and take the little extra time to yank the bag and crease the folds back down, then it goes into the stack with like bags for future use or disposal. Strings get rolled up and stuffed in my pocket and emptied in the trash (or at home on laundry day, LOL) The broom gets returned to its spot, the hose gets drained into a floor drain and coiled up. It takes a little longer but for a one person operation it keeps her time and money from beng wasted by the need to run out and replace stuff. For a big corporation like my work, they've decided that it's cheaper to just kick us out the door and spend the money replacing things because they have a whole department that does nothing but buy stuff, plus they depend on us to deal by bringing our own stuff - I swear it's an unspoken company policy.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            I had this issue with my SON, who was quite careless with how he used the tools. I went and purchased tools for HIM and required him to ONLY use them. I got him a 10-tine STEEL fork, and a STEEL scoop shovel that cost me $50! Special order from the hardware store, since Farm stores only sell aluminum scoop shovels. He was going thru them at the rate of one every 3 months, worn right thru on the cement floor! The plastic fork breakage was not affordable either, several a year. Costs add up, even back in those days.

            Those tools lasted well over a number of years with daily use, no damages, until he moved away. They are STILL in good condition and usable, well worth the initial expense of purchase. Saved me a LOT in not needing to replace other kinds of tools for cleaning the barn.

            I would have to evaluate the pieces, to see if I would deduct from the pay, for fixing or replacement of the item. As mentioned, leather can wear, stitching breaks even with good care. Hose nozzles would depend on the care, picked up, driven over even sometimes, can greatly shorten their lives. Wheelbarrows? Unless very worn to start, damage is not acceptable. Mine are sturdy, kept in good condition, tight nuts, bolts, good tires with air in them. Overloading or dropping things on them is careless damage, worthy of pay deduction.


            • #7
              Come to think of it, I did buy a fork with metal tines for that one stall cleaner to use as I was tired of the constant fork breakage. She left soon thereafter and now we never use it as it feels unwieldy to me.

              Actually the worst offender for the tools is MY HUSBAND. I have my own set of tools and he is not allowed to touch them. Consequently everything he does takes 2x as long as he first has to FIND his tools, which could be truly anywhere. I have found wrenches in his underwear and sock drawer. ?????


              • #8
                Well, we all know that stuff breaks even when it's well cared for. But if one person is having a lot more trouble than everyone else or the damage appears to be due to carelessness (i.e.: hose nozzle broken because it wasn't disconnected properly and froze) or something like that, then I'd probably have to take action. However, I don't think that it's legal to take the cost of tools out of someone's pay without some kind of previously agreed contract, is it? Maybe that varies. I can remember a vet I used to work for trying to charge an employee for damage and it ended up being illegal. That was eons ago though.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...