End to End Safety: The Site Safety Audit

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Why is safety so important? If you need to ask it’s because we need to all that we can to make sure that the workers come home alive. Elevated work is very dangerous, look at this article in Paintsquare and listen to what FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said. Worker safety is job #1. Complacency is a killer, as is the killer schedules. The FCC knows it, OSHA knows it, and you should know it. But what’s easy to do is easy not to do, and safety can be easy to do, but just as easy not to do. I am going to give you an idea of what can help in mass deployments.

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First, let me talk about how the end customer can make a difference in safety. I have it figured out. A way we can track the poor contractors, the dangerous workers, and poorly equipped climbers. This is something that the end customer, let’s use the carriers as an example. I am talking specifically about AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, and even FirstNet. Any end customer that will listen. Here is a way you can play an active role is saving live, eliminating bad contractors, and securing a good work force. It is to do safety audits on all regions you are deploying. I don’t mean all sites, pick a percentage randomly, but make sure you send someone out to do the audit while the contractor is still on site. This is not a close out package! This is an audit of the workers and what they are doing. You learn a lot when you show up unannounced.

It will cost money, I won’t kid you. You will need to make sure you build a budget for this, outside of deployment, and you must not have your GC or OEM or master integrator do it because they might cheat. You must do it as a separate project that runs simultaneously with the deployment. This is how the end customer/carrier can play an active part in deployment safety. Not just for the tower crew but for all of the workers in general.

While I think this is a great idea because 1) it will keep all of the contractors honest, 2) remove the incompetent crews, 3) keep all the crews on their toes for safety. Plain and simple, it’s a plan that will help you maintain the integrity of your deployment for safety and competence. An added bonus is it will show that you are serious about tower worker safety, right? If anything, this should alleviate you of accident liability because you are doing all that you can. This is a form of quality control!

Why wouldn’t you do it? To remain hands off so you can point the finger and stay at arm’s length to controlling safety. You probably won’t want to spend the money, which you will point to the shareholders and say they won’t let you do it. Meanwhile, what did you pay for safety people for support and what did you pay CTIA, PCIA, and NATE to resolve this issue? While they appreciate the support you can have more control here. This will look great in the eyes of OSHA and the FCC!

So what would the plan be? Here it is in a nutshell. Your next deployment will be planned out and you will hire the crews, the contractors to manage and run it and the OEM to supply the equipment. That will give you the schedule and the contractor’s names. So simultaneously have your safety people working on their project, independently, to create another separate RFP to do 10 to 25% random safety audits at the sites while the crews are on-site. This will have to be done independently of the tower work and GC because if you use them then they will warn the tower crews that an inspection will take place. Do not hire any of the deployment companies! That defeats the purpose.

Plan to put out a separate RFP to other vendors, ones that are not involved in your deployment or maybe safety teams. They can be safety vendors. Make the scope all about inspections of the tower workers while they are on the tower site working. Make the inspections random. Make it one guy that visits the sites to keep costs down. Plan on a percentage of sites, say 10% to 25% of the sites in that region. I will write the SOW if you need me too.

So when the guy goes to the site here is the high level scope.

  • Give the safety contractor a region.
  • Give the safety contractor a schedule of deployment, your PM should know what is going on. Make sure the safety contractor knows which sites the climbers will be working at.
  • Have the contractor go near the site to watch and record what it happening.
  • From afar, take video and picture for 30 minutes of the site, if possible. Log the workers actions from a safety standpoint.
  • Then have the contractor go on site, identify his purpose and show ID. Make sure to talk to the foreman or lead crew member. Ask for his and all crew members credentials and ID, record all names. Ask for all certifications but chances are good they will not have them along, so ask if they can email them to the safety contractor. Get all names, ask for each person’s ID if possible. Take notes while on site to log all activity, record all notes about work and safety. Wear all necessary PPE, like a hard hat.
  • This person visiting the site should not climb! Not his job, one person can do this. They need to take pictures and videos. If possible, use a drone to get the tower pictures and videos of the climbers in action with the foreman’s permission. Do not climb! Take plenty of notes, complete a form to log all safety information.
  • The person on site should compile the report and send to the office for completion, close out, and billing.
  • The office can compile the pictures and put in a deliverable format for the customer, end customer, and make a rating of the crew based on safety with the evidence of video and pictures and ID information. Include all names, ID information, and copies of certifications.

So there it is, if you are interested in learning more, I am writing a white paper on this subject. Let me know if you want a copy, I can send it to you if you leave me a message below. I think that we need to do something. This will serve many purposes. If you sincerely want to see the qualified contractors do the work, this is a good plan. I am sure you will tell me all the problems with this plan so feel free to comment!

Related blog posts: Large Scale Wireless Deployments, Are you in over your head?

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention to what you are doing. You need to arrive alive at the end of the day or week. You have family and friends and crewmates that want you around!

Here is my full response in a PDF. Go ahead and download it to look it over. This is what I sent to the FCC.

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