Hello Wireless Field Force!
I wanted to start this blog to discuss issues with the wireless field force but let me explain who that would be. I worked in the field for years as a field engineer, field technician, tower climber, safety, and sales. I know what the field people go through and I know what I went through. However, all of those years are paying off with what I work on now, putting together solutions and doing business development for wireless systems. I am trying to pass on my experiences and some of my knowledge on to anyone who is interested in reading this.
So here is what has been on most people’s minds lately that I have heard about. Safety for climbers, especially with all of the work coming up in the LTE builds. So I thought I would remind all of you of some healthy habits that all field workers should follow and then I am going to focus on what the climbers should be looking for.
Habits to follow;
1) When you arrive at the site, write down the details on how to get there and post somewhere visible, easy to reach, that anyone could see. This matters if there is an emergency. I know most of you probably did this and got out of the habit, but if something bad happens then this information is invaluable. If you need to call for help then there is, somewhere easy to see that anyone can get to. You may also want to post directions to the nearest hospital. With the modern phones and GPS you would think this would not be an issue, but the reality is that when you are in an emergency situation you realize all the problems that creep up, like cell coverage at the tower is poor, or the RF at the tower interferes with your GPS, or your battery on your phone is about to die. Then what, put it in writing so it’s not an issue! Put it on a wall so anyone can grab it and go. Many people require it to be in a book but that could be an issue when someone moves the book. Put it on a door or out in the open. It should be there for the duration of the install then when the installation is over then put it in a book for the new crew to use.
2) Walk the site and look for obvious safety hazards. I know all of you learned this on day one, but how many of you got out of the habit and now think you know the sites inside and out. What about things that could change, like bee’s nests. They pop up quick and anywhere. If you’re out west there could be Black Widow webs somewhere, pay attention. Maybe a new hole has appeared that the ground guy could fall into or there is something new on the tower under 20’. These things happen all the time, even if you think you do all of the work on the tower or at the site, make sure.
3) Verify the power connections. If you’re adding to a site often times electricians may think that they don’t need to cover something, they don’t realize how busy a site can be, look at the power and look for exposed wires if you’re installing new equipment. Remember that most electricians are local and they may not be familiar with the site or who may be on location.
4) Batteries may be an issue if they are out in the open. I know that batteries are way better than they were 15 years ago, but they could still leak and if you don’t pay attention then you could set some of your gear in a puddle of acid, pay attention!
5) Security could be an issue, be aware of what is going on around you. Make a note if you are in a bad part of town or if our on a mountain top and it’s the first day of hunting season. This may seem trivial until you hear a bullet whizzing by. Be alert!
6) Know your crew, if you have a new guy or if you’re the new guy, make sure you know where everyone stands. You would think that everyone knows how the other guy works, but I would communicate to the team where each of you will stand. This may sound silly to you but if someone has been around he will tell you that communication is the key from the ground to the tower. I will put it in term that most of you may know about, think of aligning a dish on a 20 mile hop, the climber and the technician may not know each other, but they need to be able to communicate properly to make the alignment come in fast. The ground guy may have to walk the path to make sure the dish is aligned close while the climber is heading up the tower. All of this plays into make the job safe, stress free, and time efficient.
7) Control your temper. I know so many people that have a low tolerance for stupidity, so when someone new is on site, tempers flare for no good reason. So I will put it to you like this, if you are the seasoned person, then make sure you’re training the new person properly, they need to learn from the best and if the best won’t teach them, then who will. If you’re the new guy, listen, offer suggestions but don’t talk over the experience. The experience of the seasoned guy will rub off if you listen and learn.
8) Pay attention to the weather. Weather matters, even if you’re not climbing. If you don’t know the area weather, then learn quickly. Storms may creep in quick, snow or rain. Look at www.weather.com for any issues of the day and the hourly forecast. It matters when you may be alone at a site.
9) Learn about local hazards. I traveled so much to work in the field, all over the US. Some of you are probably going outside the US; learn what hazards are in the local areas. Here are some examples, if you live in the Northeast then Black Widows and scorpions probably aren’t an issue, but in the south and west they are. Snakes are always an issue; learn about the local snakes and how dangerous and aggressive they are. Bears, in the spring they go a bit crazy, be aware. Lizards, some are poisonous, so leave them alone if you’re on site. Birds are a huge issue, in Maryland the Osprey is protected, you need to stay off the tower when they are around or the Department of Natural Resources will be after you, Think it’s a joke, well then you haven’t worked in Maryland. Eagles are also an issue in many states, just be aware of the local laws and animals.
10) When you get on site, let someone know you are there, very simple. Most companies have Operation Centers that track people coming and going, but it would be a good idea to let someone know where you are and when you plan to leave. Just in case something happens and you can’t call for help. A simple yet good idea that I think hardly anyone follows unless it is company policy.
Alright everyone, I hope this adds some value to your work life. Just remember that you need to balance your life out. It took me a long time to realize that, but you don’t want to burn out. The increased work load coming on may have you push harder for the money, but be smart and know your limitations.
If you like this blog let me know. I am new at this, and it may take me awhile to get some better content but I will keep working at it.
So, with all of that said, if you have something you want me to discuss or write about then send me a message or post on my Facebook page, Wade4wireless, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and give me some good ideas.