September 18, 2014 — The FCC is teaming with the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration to launch an apprenticeship program for telecommunications tower technicians next month.
The mission of the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, TIRAP as it is known, is to partner with government and industry stakeholders to promote safety, enhance quality, and enable education and advancement opportunities in the telecommunications workforce.
The purpose of the national guidelines for apprenticeship standards is to provide policy and guidance to local sponsors in developing these standards for apprenticeship for local approval and registration. Local entities may also impose additional requirements in their apprenticeship standards.
A Telecommunications Tower Apprentice is a supervised member of a crew performing general construction activities with an emphasis on tower system installation and maintenance and inspection of existing support structures used in providing essential telecommunication systems, including personal wireless communications, public safety communications, utility networks and broadcasting.
Level 1 of the safety training program for a Telecommunications Tower Apprentice includes OSHA 10 (Telcom) authorized climber, personal protection equipment, CPR/first aid/BBP, RF awareness, jobsite safety analysis and scope of work. Technical training includes basic rigging, material handling, and ropes/knots; operation of hand and power saws; operation of trucks, trailers and equipment; and introduction to tower structures and appurtenances.
The National Association of Tower Erectors, which has created the Wireless Industry Safety Taskforce (WIST) to develop a standard for best practices for sustainable safety improvements, is working in concert with TIRAP to ensure that workers will receive commensurate training to the same competencies in either program. Additionally the two groups are taking pains to use the same vernacular.
“We want clarity,” Todd Schlekeway, NATE executive director, to AGL Link. “We will continue to collaborate with the TIRAP Board to ensure that we are singing off the same song sheet in regard to the competencies that are being expected for workers in the industry in order to receive certification.”
Through its collaboration with TIRAP, WIST opted to take its Elevated Tower Technician I and Elevated Tower Technician II classifications and rename them to be Telecommunications Tower Technician I and Telecommunications Tower Technician II, respectively, in order to maintain consistent vernacular with the TIRAP program.
The Wireless Industry Safety Taskforce was formed of 27 safety and operations executives representing the wireless carriers, tower owners, OEMs and turnkey/construction management firms at the NATE’s Telecommunications Industry Safety Summit in October 2013 in Dallas. Its goals include examining factors that compromise safety and developing best practices to protect the lives of tower workers.