Why Doesn’t the PSAI Do Something About Bad Behavior? We Do!

Why Doesn’t the PSAI Do Something About Bad Behavior? We Do!

Karleen Kos is executive director of the Portable Sanitation Association International. She may be reached at karleenk@psai.org or 952-854-8300.

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Once in a while the Portable Sanitation Association International office will take a call or get an email about a “bad actor.” Usually a competitor is upset and wants the PSAI to make the offending firm clean up its act. Illegal disposal. Failure to pay employees properly. Spreading misinformation about another company. “Why doesn’t the PSAI do something?” the caller wants to know.

We do.

With input from throughout the industry, the PSAI adopted and oversees a Code of Excellence for the portable sanitation industry. We use it to position portable sanitation as worthy of greater respect and consideration for the important role it plays in providing essential services. Part of how that works is shining a light on questionable tactics in the industry.

Here are some things you should know about how it works:

• The code is a company-level commitment. Each new PSAI member company is required to sign the Code of Excellence prior to their membership being activated. Current PSAI member companies are asked to reaffirm their commitment to the code annually. By their signatures, the company leaders are saying, “My company will abide by the Code of Excellence.” If they fail to do so, the company can be sanctioned by the PSAI.

• Certified Portable Sanitation Professionals make a personal commitment. In addition to the company-level promise, an individual seeking certification as a CPSP must also agree to follow a code of ethics that relates to his or her own conduct on the job. More important, it specifically states that CPSPs cannot absolve themselves of responsibility because “the boss made me do it.”

• PSAI’s approach is educational and proactive. We use these two codes as the foundation for many of our education and training programs for professionals in the industry. We also use them to help the public understand what they can reasonably expect from portable sanitation services.

Some of the calls we get concern business behavior that is annoying to a competitor, but it isn’t illegal or even unethical. In those cases, we talk through options with the caller. When the allegation is about something clearly out of line, we use a complaint protocol so laws are followed and rights are respected.

• First things first. If a caller alleges something illegal is happening, we refer the caller to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The PSAI has no jurisdiction over policing or regulatory enforcement. We try to answer questions about how to make this report, but only the caller knows if she or he will follow through.

• We explain the PSAI complaint process. The PSAI has no authority over nonmember companies. If the allegedly offending firm is a PSAI member, we explain how to file a formal complaint and the due process for the investigation that would follow. If the offenders are not members, we coach the caller on the other options available to resolve the situation.

To date, the PSAI has not had any Code of Excellence cases go through the entire complaint procedure. Generally issues have been resolved by:

• The offended company speaking with the PSAI and then an attorney, realizing that their competitor’s actions are annoying but not illegal or unethical, and formulating a business response to the tactics.

• The parties coming to resolution by talking to one another.

• The offending company resigning from the PSAI.

The PSAI board believes these codes give everyone a common language for talking about the best ways to behave in the marketplace. They help improve  conduct in our industry and, if someone goes off course, they are the foundation for training and guidance. If that fails, they are also the means by which we “do something” — not for enforcement, but for excellence. 


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