I saw in forums and on Facebook that the website for OSHA’s communication tower is going around. Click here to see it. This is good news that OSHA is recognizing the climbers and riggers. They even added a special page, “No more falling workers“ as an announcement that they recognizing the deaths and injuries that have already happened this year. In the article is points out that 13 were lost last year and 4 already this year! They even created a letter to employers, an open letter, written by David Michaels, PhD, MPH, asking for compliance. In the letter Michael states, “Every single one of these tragedies was preventable”, for the problems. Do you realize that they recognize the dangers and they are actually taking steps to prevent future accidents. This will be a team effort but I think the employers may need to understand that this may be the first step towards regulation, strict regulation. I don’t know if that will happen, for political reasons, but we can’t continue to lose lives, no matter what, so something is going to have to be done.
Just so you know that the Department of Labor is working with NATE to discuss what needs to be done. That announcement is here. The call to action was listed in a letter, for DoL is creating an outreach program. This will entail OSHA to send qualified persons to the scene to ensure that all was done properly. They will document everything as a COMTOWER incident. I have copied this to show you what they will be looking at.
Please ensure that the following information is entered into either IMIS or OIS for each incident:
• Age and sex of victim(s).
• Type of tower involved in the incident (i.e., monopole, lattice, guyed, etc.)
• Number of employees working on site at the time of the incident.
• Description of incident, including causes, if known.
• If the incident was a fall, describe the use of fall protection at the time of incident. Was
fall protection not provided? Was it provided but not used? Was it used, but did it fail?
What was the approximate height of the fall?
• Contract chain information: Describe the nature of the contract chain, following the chain
up as far as possible, including the entity whose signal was being worked on.
• Was a base mounted drum hoist in use for hoisting personnel?
Additional information to be entered into IMIS or OIS when available:
• Weather conditions at the time of the incident.
• Additional employee information: length of employment in industry, level of training,
• Ambient Radio Frequency: Was ambient RF present? Were employees wearing any measuring or warning devices to protect against ambient RF?
This is not going to be taken lightly anymore. OSHA does have an on site consultation program, link here, if you are interested.
The workers in the tower industry have done an outstanding job taking care of each other. But like anything you have people who either don’t care or put the schedule ahead of safety, (lives), these are the people we need to look for and make sure that the word gets out. It seems that maybe OSHA will give a hand more than ever now. We still have to remember that we need to work with them and police ourselves. We need to be honest and show the integrity that is out there. This also means that we have to learn new systems, techniques, and hardware that is improving safety. I have a hard time giving up old habits, but maybe it’s time we learn some new, safer habits. Are you up for that challenge. I hear a lot of shining about the greenhorns, the new climbers that need to learn. Well, instead of complaining about them maybe you could teach them right from wrong, build strong habits in then through examples. It is your responsibility to ensure that everyone is safe and happy. Climbing is not for many people, just a select breed. Let’s appreciate it when we find young people that want to do it, groom them to be safe, strong, and smart. Although we looked at ourselves as the last cowboys, remember that cowboys needed to rely on each other and work as a team to get the herd in. They all wanted to make it home safe. It seems like a good mantra to live by, look out for each other, be safe, and all make it home after a successful drive!
This needs to be a team effort. The climber is on the front line and the tower owner needs to be sure the tower is safe. So make sure we all communicate. Make sure we let the program manager knows when a schedule is crazy, and maybe the crew chief or owner needs to say “no” to the customer once in a while to put safety first. Wouldn’t that be a treat? I know many owners that really care about their people. in fact most do, but once again you have someone who thinks that are putting business and profit first matters more than safety. If someone gets hurt, nobody wins and you stand to lost a lot more than that gained hour or day would have added. How can you afford not to be careful and safe? Remember to be safe and don’t be stupid!