Sorry this is so late but I am one of the people affected by the power outages in Pennsylvania. It went out yesterday morning. Met-Ed/First Energy has their hands full, they didn’t seem prepared for the ice storm, usually they do very well.
I wanted to send out an update to the tower collapse. OSHA is looking into this. I have the link below for some updated news. SBA is cooperating fully but we just don’t know what happened yet. Let’s not lay blame on anyone until we know more.
This brings me to the attitude towards OSHA. Years ago, we always thought they were there to stop work. I remember that foremen would tell us to stop work if they came by so we didn’t get a citation for something. Now, when I look at OSHA, I think they often don’t do enough to some of these companies. I can’t believe the paradigm shift. I look at OSHA as understaffed and overworked now. They aren’t out looking for problems anymore, they are actually responding to issues as needed. I the worker should realize that OSHA is their friend, there to make sure that work conditions are safe for everyone. I look to OSHA to help us make things better and improve conditions. We all want to be safe and sound when we get home. OSHA wants it to be that way. They want the worker to be safe in the US and Canada. I would like to see OSHA with a fully trained and certified tower climbing branch.
Safe work conditions are caused by safe, smart, and careful workers. If you don’t believe that then look at some accidents caused by shortcuts. If we could all take some time and reflect on our shortcuts and be glad it worked out. Trust me, most people have done something stupid at some time in their life and it turned out fine. However, some people have done something stupid when they shouldn’t have, and it turned out bad. Think about the bad, how bad can it be? Does it mean you have to work another 2 to 3 hours, pay an expert to come out and help, or will someone die if things go wrong? If you think anyone could get hurt, then play it very safe. Remember, don’t be stupid! Learn from our mistakes and the great thing about the internet is that we can learn from other people’s mistakes. It makes sense to plan and research. I am hoping that this blog can help you do that, learn. Trust me, I have so much to learn, and about the time I think I figured something out there could be a new or better way to do it. The only constant is that things change. I once thought that paging was going to take over, look how wrong I can be. If you see something I did wrong, let me know, I will correct it.
I believe one thing that is helping is that companies are beginning to have their own safety programs and safety teams. I see many construction and tower companies will have safety teams that go out and inspect work done in the field. IF the safety teams are truly looking out for the best interests of safety, this is a great program. This could create some controversy where the safety patrol reports to the same CEO that the crew reports to and the PM may need to make sure his job is done on time and without any reported incidents. This is where the doubt may lie. So who should patrol the workers for their own safety? Should the customer, you know, the carrier that created the insane schedule in first place? Does that make sense? It seems that they should have skin in the game, but all they really want is to have a working system up and running quickly. Personally I think it should be both. The workers should be looking after their own safety, the company should be policing its employees. The carrier should have its own safety patrol out there, even if it’s another contractor to watch and inspect the workers. One thing I have seen in the past is to hire a contractor to monitor the installers for quality and safety. To me, this seemed like a great system, but most carriers would not want to pay for it. I know that when the governments install their public safety systems, they go to the lowest bidder and hope for the best. The exception I have seen in the past is Utility companies. Most of them do things first class with quality and safety in mind. My opinion.
Do we need to get field people certified? Should there be a qualification to insure that climbers are certified before they climb, as an industry standard? I don’t mean as a company requirement but as an industry standard where you need to present the certification that is OSHA approve with an actual training requirement. Should we lay out realistic timelines that would be adhered to as far as time in the air on a weekly basis? You know, like truckers had put on them for drive time to save lives on the highways. I remember when you needed the FCC General Radiotelephone license to work on transmitters, (I have one I got back in 1983!), but that went away as transmitters became safer and easier to work on. However, there has never been any official certification for tower climbing. Literally one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. I worked on some transmitters which had 1500V to power tubes, no certification required. I helped a TV engineer replace those huge klystron tubes for an old analog UHF TV transmitters, no certification required. What do you think? Should there be an industry standard to have tower climbers certified by an OSHA approved and regulated program?
Remember that there is a helpful organization out there helping the families of hurt tower workers, Hubble Foundation!
Like my Facebook Page, I want to show some support the wireless field worker this way!