Let us not forget, February 1 of 2014 was NOT Super!

This year on Feb 1st North America will be enjoying the Super Bowl, the NFL’s and America’s biggest sporting event off the year! Last year, on Feb, 1, was the day that 3 people lost their lives. 2 Tower climbers were killed along with fire rescue and 2 more climbers were injured when the tower they were upgrading collapsed while all 4 men were on it. Then, rescue arrived to save them, and they did save the injured, but not until after another tower beside the first, damaged the second tower and caused it to collapse during the rescue, where another life was lost, one of the fire fighter who was attempting to rescue one of the injured climbers. This was a very sad day. Do you remember hearing that news? I do.

I have posts here and here.

So I saw on Facebook where NIOSH put out their report about the tower climber, it is an excellent report if you have the time to read it, go to http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201403.pdf and download it. I pulled some good stuff out of it that the tower industry could learn from.

If you want to read more about the investigation from OSHA, go to OSHA NEWS RELEASE for more information. To get OSHA updated information go to COMMUNICATION TOWER. I see the number of fatalities is still 11, I guess they are not counting the fall in December, post here, as a Communication Tower Fatality. OSHA: No more falling workers.

What did you learn?

OK, back to the NIOSH PDF which you can go download. You can learn from this by looking at what the fire departments did not do properly. It is easy for us to look back and learn from this terrible accident. We reviewed what the tower crews did wrong, but the NIOSH Report # F2014-03 was very enlightening. For instance, do you have a copy of all of your training records on file where everyone can get to them in case something happens? Do you have your Standard operating procedures documented and available to show anyone who asks?

When I worked at a company where we built up the tower business with crews I learned quite a bit. For one, insurance is very expensive, that seemed to be my first lesson. Second, training takes time and costs money. Third was that safety gear and training costs money. Nothing is free and nothing is cheap!

However, we had a consultant come in and tell us to record our standard operating procedures (SOP). You see, we had the employee and safety handbooks, that is not what he was talking about. He wanted us to document our typical installation processes. This is something that we took for granted. Creating it was tedious but in the long run, it was helpful. We documented simple procedure, like how to put a non penetrating rooftop mount together, very simple yet it had to be documented. We also put together mounting a dish to a tower. We had to break it out to several size dishes. We documented safety procedures and more. This is something that tower climbers often say, “Well, no tower installation is the same!” I agree, but the basics are very similar, right? I mean to install a dish, you need to climb the tower, rig the tower, put the dish and mount together, usually on the ground, then hoist them up, attach them to the tower, the ground the dish, connect the ODU, connect the cables, and align the dish. Now, that wasn’t so hard was it? We also made drawings and sometimes added pictures. Many times the process of assembly was in the instructions so if we used a common part or dish or antenna, we used that for the SOP.

By doing this we learned the value of paperwork in wireless deployment and in protecting the company. It also allowed us to identify holes and procedures we were missing. From that we built a better way to build scopes of work (SOW) and continued to build a basis for documented hours for bids. When I bid jobs this really helped me identify the process of deployment.

Just a few notes, let’s learn from this incident as we should from all incidents, whether it was a horrible fatality like this was or whether it was a near miss. Ask yourself, what did you learn?

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention. Create your plan, follow your plan, but don’t be afraid to adapt, improvise, and overcome. That’s what you do in wireless deployments.

For more listen to  iTunes or Stitcher for more commentary! Podcast Download

Start learning with some products I created just for you! Start with the Introduction to Tower Climbing, then get The Field Worker’s Aid for Tower Site Work, then to do the work you need to look at the Scope of Work Training, and finally the Tower Worker’s Logbook to log your high time and drive time and your project responsibilities, go to Learn more about my products! for more information!

Go to theIWCE conferenceand see me! I will be on the“Tower Safety and Regulatory Compliance”panel on March 17th, 2015. Don’t you need an excuse to go to the Las Vegas convention center. I will share the stage withCory Crenshaw, Charles Ryan,Dr. Denis Boulais, and Robert Johnson. Our moderator will be J. Sharpe Smith ofAGL Magazine. Here is a list of exhibitors that will be there. I will be speaking and I may need some safety gear, email me at wade4wireless@gmail.com so we can talk! Make sure you sign up for this forum running 1:00PM to 4:30PM because let’s face it, these are issues you deal with on every job!If you want to talk after the conference, let me know.

If someone can lend me a climbing harness and helmet at IWCE, I would appreciate it! I would like to show the crowd what the climber needs to wear everyday.


Special thanks to the hard-working investigators at NIOSH!

From the PDF. “This incident was investigated by Jay L. Tarley, Safety and Occupational Health Specialist, Matt Bowyer, General Engineer, and Tim Merinar, Safety Engineer and Project Officer with the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, Surveillance and Field Investigations Branch, Division of Safety Research, NIOSH located in Morgantown, WV. Expert technical reviews were provided by Chief Joseph V. Maruca, West Barnstable Massachusetts Fire Department and Chief Ulysses Seal, Bloomington Minnesota Fire Department. A technical review was also provided by the National Fire Protection Association, Public Fire Protection Division.”

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  1. Wade: you are doing a great service by publicizing issues related to safety and of course falling. Please keep it up! There must be no lapse in being connected to the tower the moment the climber leaves the ground. Owners must have a proper safety system in place before any work is done!

    What is the next step following the recent FCC/OSHA event?

    Thank you: Nigel

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate the feedback Nigel!
      The next step is to see what NATE will put out for climbing standards. They are going to publish a standard based on their team putting them together and TIRAP recommendations. It is a step in the right direction.


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