Preview of the FCC and DOL OSHA Tower Safety Workshop


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Yes, it’s time again for the FCC and DOL tower safety workshop. Of course, when I say DoL I really mean OSHA in this case. The agenda can be found here.  I am going to be on a panel for the workshop to discuss not only the problems in the industry but also some solutions.

  • Quick notes for those of you outside of the USA
    • FCC = Federal Communications Commission
    • DoL = Department of Labor
    • OSHA = Occupational Safety and Health Association which is part of the DoL

The workshop that the FCC and the DoL have put together is going to be in the Headquarters of the FCC on February 11th. The announcement is here. The FCC is in the Commission Room at 445 12th Street, SW, Washington DC, 20554. The admission is free so if you can make it, if you can get the day off, I highly recommend that you show up and listen, participate by asking questions, and learn.

Download podcast here.

If you want to view the discussion remotely the go to t http://www.fcc.gov/live to see what’s going on.

This is very important, to submit questions during the conference, then send an email to livequestions@fcc.gov  or Tweet the #FCClive hashtag.

I was there in October of 2014 for the last conference where the FCC and DoL announced the creation of TIRAP. We shall see what TIRAP progress has been made in the past year and who has adopted it. What do you know and remember of TIRAP? Do any of you in the field know about TIRAP and has it made any difference in your life? Let me know by entering the information in my contact form below. To learn more about TIRAP you can go to http://www.tirap.org/ and see what they have been up to. Personally I didn’t see a major impact in the industry yet, but I really want this to be a success. I am still waiting for that major impact.

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FYI – OSHA has a tower communication safety site, https://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/communicationtower/index.html, which at this writing looks like it really hasn’t been updated in a while. It still shows the deaths from 2014, not 2015. It still has announcements from 2014 and it seems there have been no updates in 2015. In 2014 this was great, unfortunately it seems that it hasn’t been updated since then. Come on guys, let’s get with it. Tower workers are still working and deaths have still happened, but they have been lower.

  • To get more information on the workshop reach out to the following people;
  • Let’s talk agenda;
    • 9AM Opening Remarks:
      • Roger Sherman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, FCC
      • Dean McKenzie, Acting Director, Directorate of Construction, DOL
      • Eric M. Seleznow, Deputy Assistant Secretary, ETA, DOL
      • Tom Wheeler, Chairman, FCC
    • 9:30AM First Panel Discussion: FCC/DOL Guidance on Best Practices for Improving Safety;
      • Angela Jones, Union Wireless
      • Don Doty, National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE)
      • Jason Becker, National Radio Operations Branch, BLM
      • John Parham, Jacobs Engineering Group
      • Kevin Schmidt, National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA)
      • Wade Sarver, Wade4Wireless.com
      • Moderators:
        • Claire Wack, Attorney Advisor, Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, FCC
        • Jessica Douma, Regulatory Analyst, OSHA
    • 10:30AM Second Panel Discussion: Comments Received in Response to OSHA’s Request for Information on Communication Tower Safety (OSHA-2014-0018);
      • Dr. Bridgette Hester, Hubble Foundation
      • Craig Lekutis, WirelessEstimator.com
      • Nick Vespa, Southeastern Towers
      • Richard Cullum, Crown Castle
      • Moderators:
        • Michael Janson, Associate Chief, Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, FCC
        • Erin Patterson, Regulatory Analyst, OSHA
    • 11:30 Third Panel Discussion: Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) and Telecommunications Workforce Development;
      • Chase Hammock, TIRAP Apprentice, MUTI/Sabre Industries
      • Dave Anthony, Shenandoah Tower
      • David Sams, SBA Communications
      • Jonathan Adelstein, PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association
      • Laurie Gebhardt, Verizon Wireless
      • Moderators:
        • Zachary Boren, Senior Advisor, Office of Apprenticeship, ETA
        • Matthew Warner, Attorney Advisor, Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, FCC

Here we are again looking at safety in the tower industry. There have been fewer deaths this year, thank GOD! I believe that we have had 2 slow years in a row for the industry. How many people have left the industry? From what I hear not many. There will be an uptick in work in 2016, so we will need climbers.I already hear about the training for climbers is increasing. Will the guys that left come back? Only if they need the work and money because they know what the lifestyle is like. Travel, long hours, hard work, fair pay if you’re lucky, and then tossed aside when the work is done. Not the ideal American dream if you ask me and I have been part of this for years. I love wireless, I love RF, and I think that the wireless communications is the coolest thing in the world. However, it has problems that need to be fixed. Problems that need to be addressed.

Unfortunately, many tower climbers are not helping the situation, that’s right, this is not a one-sided argument where you are the victims. It will be a team effort to make changes. I am very optimistic, I feel we can solve the problems in the industry if we work together, if we all care enough to make change. I want to see this improve but I am tired. Remember, a quote that is NOT in the bible yet one we hear quite often, “GOD only helps those that help themselves” which something that most people say but very few people own. I believe it and I try to follow this advice along with the serenity prayer, which I know this version, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Again, not in the Bible.

I am concentrating on the deployment side of the industry lately because I really feel we can make a living deploying small cells and DAS because I love the engineering side. I still want to see the tower industry improve and I will do what I can to help, but it needs to be a team effort and one that the workers need to commit and have a voice as much as the owners and carriers. I am pointing this out because it’s easy for all of us to complain and bitch, but when it comes to doing something, that takes work, it’s an inconvenience, and something that few people do. It’s not my job but I have tried to help. If you want to learn what I think about this subject, I will put it in my newsletter, you can sign up below. Just say “Newsletter” in the notes section.

To see the replay of the 2014 session, go to https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2014/10/workshop-on-tower-climber-safety-and-injury-protection.

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Give to the Hubble Foundation because if you don’t help these families, who will?  Did you ever lose a loved one in the industry? What if it were you? Do you want to make a difference?  Who would help you if you were hurt? Who would help your family, your spouse, your children?

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