June 6, 2017 —
The FCC and OSHA have announced the development of the Communications Tower Best Practices Guide, touting safety awareness and planning for all the entities involved in tower construction and maintenance.
“All entities should establish a comprehensive safety and health management system,” the guide said. “This system should address all of the hazards associated with communication tower work, and all companies should ensure that their safety and health management system is compatible with those requirements imposed by other companies in the contract chain.”
The collection of best practices for a safer working environment for construction and maintenance of communications towers was gathered from Department of Labor/FCC Joint Workshop on Tower Climber Safety held I the fall 2014.
“The guide is a result of the long-standing commitment of both agencies to ensuring the safety of tower workers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and NTIA head Dorothy Dougherty said in a prepared statement. “In the spirit of good government and cooperation, our agencies have hosted workshops with input from industry stakeholders to identify and establish accepted practices for performing communication towers work safely.”
Compared with when carriers owned their own towers, the relationship between carriers and towers has become complex today, the guide said, with layers upon layers of subcontractors doing the work.
“As a result, carriers and tower owners may not know who is performing work for them, or when work is being performed,” according to the guide. “Thus, responsibility for worker safety is fractured into many layers. Instead of a single company having control and responsibility for worker safety and tower integrity, employer responsibilities can be spread over hundreds of small employers.”
As a matter of course, the guide has sections for tower climbers and ground crew workers, carriers and tower owners, turfing vendors, and tower construction and maintenance contractors. The guide stresses that it is for informational purposes only and does not represent a new regulation or standard or legal obligation.
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) assisted the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA and the FCC in developing the guide by providing subject matter experts and other tower safety resources. It also spoke at the two U.S. DOL-FCC joint workshops on tower climber safety. NATE Executive Director Todd Schlekeway congratulated the agencies on releasing the guide, noting that more work needs to be done in this area.
“NATE believes it is paramount that the U.S. DOL-OSHA and the FCC continue to collaborate to host additional workshops and stay engaged with all layers of the wireless infrastructure chain to ensure that workforce safety and quality remain the top priorities,” he said.
Click here for a copy of the Communications Tower Best Practices Guide