First off, thank you for all the near miss stories, I appreciate it! Link is here if you missed it. Keep them coming!
Let’s talk fines and how the FCC and OSHA fines compare. I wanted to go over what the FCC and OSHA are up against. They both issue a lot of fines and many of them take research. The FCC covers so many issue as does OSHA. All that we see is our world and the problems we face. We cry for help because we are losing fellow climbers. We are asking OSHA to help and now the FCC has joined our cause. I thought I would show you how many fines and all the work both organizations do. These guys mostly hear us whine and complain, but there are people working hard in the groups that are trying to make a difference. While I don’t agree with all of the fines, I find them all interesting. This may help us understand why they are taking so long to do anything. That is, we understand unless you know someone who died. Then all this seems unimportant because they need to step in to make sure it never happens again. Look at the losses in the tower industry this year and you see that several of the fallen were older. They were in their 30s and 40s. We need to find out what is happening, and we have been asking OSHA to help. Remember that several climbers were injured and stuck on towers and had to be rescued by fireman after waiting for EMS to respond after the 911 call. Our industry needs help.
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So I was reading an article, http://www.somdnews.com/article/20140730/NEWS/140739911/1045&source=RSS&template=gazette, where the FCC imposed a $10,400 fine, reduced from $13,000, for tower lights that were out. The FCC fined Washington Gas for a 2010 Frederick Tower light outage. Washington Gas did notify the FAA immediately, but 4 days after the outage. This is the reason for the fine. I don’t know the circumstances but just bare with me so I can make a point.
OSHA fined S & S Tower Company $14,000 for a tower collapse that killed 2 tower climbers causing a second tower collapse that killed a fireman. In this case three people died, and the fine was slightly more. This was the second violation for this company. However, this seemed to be an accident.
Now looking at this I have to wonder if the FCC has more clout in the government or how the fines for 2 penalties that are drastically different can be so close in dollar amount. Does this make sense to anyone? I think that it’s time that the Department of Labor and the FCC collaborate on how the fines are issued. Something appears to be very wrong here.
Listen, fines are tough, and I have never been on a crew that got any, thank GOD, but I do know that they should be fair. These are 2 incidents that warrant fines as the law is written, but it seems that the heavy fine for the light outage seems excessive and the fine for the fatalities seems light. My opinion!
Now, if you look at how OSHA hammered Morlan Enterprises back on February 25th, 2014, when they saw 2 employees climbing without the proper climbing gear, on a monopole surrounded by trees. They hammered them with $35,000 in fines. No previous violations, but this was a willful violation who was the first to violate the rule stating that workers must have effective fall protection. Keep in mind this was a willful violation, they willingly decided to ignore the safety rules set by OSHA!
So to give you an overview of all the fines, OSHA handed out 8,241 fines for Fall Protection violations in 2013 according to this article. Fall violations were #1 in OSHA’s fine list. They do not take it lightly for any industry.
Now for the FCC it is much harder to count and separate the fines. So I went to their headlines screen here and loaded the data into Excel and here is what I saw was around 90 total fines issued in 2014. The FCC fines are very complicated for the most part. They range from fencing violations to Emergency alert violations to fining Intel for importing unapproved smart phones and tablet. By the way, Wal-Mart was fined $120K for wireless mic marketing issues!
So to sum this up, in the wireless communications tower industry we have needs but these departments are overseeing a ton of industries. So because the tower work is small they tend to get overlooked. I think that the 13 deaths last year and the 9 deaths this year have changed that. I also think that the record hiring rate of green climbers is going to change things. We want everyone to be safe and look out for each other. We need these people to be trained properly and to gain experience from experience. The FCC and OSHA are doing what they can with what they got. What about you? Are you doing what you can to train new climbers or do you sit there and say that someone should do something? I wrote this and I am trying to get the word out beyond Facebook, show some support.
So my question to you, the reader (or listener), what do you think is fair? Is this another government oversight where they just issue fines without a thought standard across the industry? Should the FCC work with OSHA to issue fines in the communications industry? What do you think is fair?
But wait, there’s more!
Following these fines, I think that it’s time that OSHA niches down to have a specific division that can concentrate specifically on the tower industry. Even if it’s just one guy. Or maybe listen to the complaints that roll in. Could we do that? They dish out many fines, but they only have so many resources, they need a specialist for the tower industry.
Other tower and broadcast related FCC fines;
- * We impose a penalty of $15,000 against Jean Richard Salvador for operating an unlicensed FM radio station on the frequency 89.5 MHz in Miami, Florida. Although Mr. Salvador denies operating the unlicensed station in September 2013, he did not dispute that he operated the station in June or July of 2013. *
- We propose a penalty of $10,000 against Duhamel Broadcasting Enterprises (Duhamel), for failing to ensure that its antenna structure was properly illuminated. Although Duhamel believed that the structure did not require lighting because of its position in a three-tower array, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified Duhamel officially that lighting was required for the antenna structure. Given that public safety is at risk when antenna structures are not properly illuminated, Duhamel’s failure to light the structure after the FAA notification warrants a significant penalty. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL), we find that Duhamel, owner of antenna structure number 1042912 in Rapid City, South Dakota (Antenna Structure), apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 303(q) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), and Sections 17.23 and 17.48(a) of the Commission’s rules (Rules), by failing to exhibit required lighting on the Antenna Structure during nighttime hours and for failure to notify the FAA immediately that the Antenna Structure was not lit. We conclude that Duhamel is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
- We propose a penalty of $25,000 against CMARR, Inc. (CMARR), for apparently willfully interfering with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) weather radar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by operating radio transmitters without a license. Given the risk to public safety created by CMARR’s unlicensed operations, and the fact that CMARR had already received a warning for similar violations, these actions warrant a significant penalty.
- In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find that CMARR, operator of an Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) transmission system in San Juan, Puerto Rico, apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 301 and 333 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), by causing interference to the FAA by operating an intentional radiator without a license. We conclude that CMARR is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
- We propose a penalty of $7,000 against Sound Communications, LLC (Sound Communications) for apparently failing to enclose AM Station WENY’s antenna structure in Southport, New York, within an effective locked fence. Sound Communications admitted to leaving a gate unlocked for several days so that personnel from a tower repair company could gain access to the antenna structure site in order to prepare a bid for a repair project. The unlocked gate was of particular concern to FCC agents because the antenna structure is located in a residential neighborhood.
- In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find that Sound Communications, licensee of Station WENY and owner of antenna structure number 1053420 (Antenna Structure) in Southport, New York, apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 73.49 of the Commission’s rules (Rules), by failing to enclose the antenna structure within an effective locked fence. We conclude that Sound Communications is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of seven thousand dollars ($7,000).
OSHA fines for tower companies (OSHA cites many companies but I only see a few violations in the past few months);
- COOLVILLE, Ohio – Two workers were free climbing, or climbing without safety lines, a 195-foot communication tower under construction without adequate fall protection in Coolville. As a result, Morlan Enterprises has been cited for one willful and eight serious safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA has proposed penalties of $52,500.
- CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Following the collapse of a Clarksburg communication tower in February 2014 that seriously injured two and claimed the lives of two employees and a volunteer firefighter, S and S Communication Specialists Inc. has been cited for two serious workplace safety violations. The citations issued to the Hulbert, Oklahoma-based Company follow an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Tower fatalities from OSHA;
|6/17/2014||Microwave Transmission Systems Inc., San Angelo, TX 76903||Worker died after falling from tower.||Fatality|
|3/25/2014||Wireless Horizon, Westmoreland, KS 66549||Two workers killed when a wireless communications tower collapsed.||Fatality|
|3/19/2014||Redwing Electric, LLC, Pasadena, MD 21122||Worker killed in fall from water tower.||Fatality|
|2/1/2014||S. & S. Communication Specialist Inc., Clarksburg, WV 26301||Two workers killed in a communications tower collapse.||Fatality|
|11/22/2013||Optica Network Technologies, N. Wichita, KS 67219||Maintenance worker died in fall from communication tower.||Fatality|
Remember what Art Seely, (the CEO at Safety One International Training and a senior paramedic, http://safetyoneinc.com/) says, “A summer climber needs fluid with electrolytes such as a diluted 50% Gatorade mixture to drink at 10 minute intervals. The only disadvantage to 50% diluted Gatorade is the stomach “sees” the nutrients in the solution and immediately passes the fluid on to the small intestine where the absorption rate is only 1/3 as fast as if the fluid stayed in the stomach. With pure water the fluid stays in the stomach and is more quickly passed to the blood stream. Once in the blood stream the rehydration progresses next to the cells and finally to the interstitial spaces. The point of mentioning that is that even though a climber feels better after rehydrating from serious dehydration he should wait at least 12 hours to resume any significant work. In winter climbs the majority of the fluid loss is through the surface of the lungs which unlike perspiration does not upset electrolyte balance and water is a great substitute to drink before, during and after the climb… In either case once you have a victim on a tower or on the ground the initial attempts at “fluid resuscitation” should always utilize water at close to body temperature. As with all victims they must be able to hold the fluid container and drink from it themselves, do not attempt to pour it into their mouth as vomiting and aspiration resulting in a delayed bacterial pneumonia is a likely result and that can easily be fatal without prompt hospitalization. Once the victim’s symptoms start to improve then if they were in a hot environment you can start with Gatorade at 50% or 100% concentrations.
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By the way, I am planning to put out some more books, this time on scopes of work, Bill of materials, and other useful information for the workers. Let me know what you think. I am working on 2 new projects, a new book that outlines my different jobs in the industry and a library of reference material that you can access quickly to take to the site. I want to see you make the site safer with quick reference material. If you have any idea of what you need out there let me know. Is this going to help you? Let me know on Facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment or leave a message at 510-516-4283