(Kansas City, Missouri) – The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) today unveiled a Guy Wire Anchor Inspection safety video as part of Volume 2 of the popular Climber Connection series. The Guy Wire Anchor Inspection video was released by NATE at the Association’s 2017 Summer Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
The NATE Guy Wire Anchor Inspection video provides an overview of surface inspections and dig-to-block inspections, the two types of inspection protocols utilized in the industry to assess potential corrosion on the anchors of guyed towers. The video also includes live footage and detailed analysis of a tower crew safely conducting both a surface level inspection and dig-to-block inspection at a communication tower site. Additionally, the video portrays images of the impact corrosion can have on the anchor shafts of guy wires.
“I commend NATE for shining a spotlight on the importance of conducting guy wire anchor inspections,” stated Chris Memmott, President and active climber at Triple M Enterprises in Nephi, Utah. “As guyed tower structures age and as the infrastructure continues to take on more equipment, it is paramount that tower technicians and other industry field personnel gain knowledge and experience in performing guy anchor inspections to ensure both the ultimate safety of the worker and the stability of the tower,” added Memmott.
Click HERE to watch the Guy Wire Anchor Inspection safety video. NATE encourages tower climbers and industry stakeholders to actively participate in this campaign by posting the Guy Wire Anchor Inspection video on their respective social networking platforms using the hashtag #ClimberConnection. NATE also encourages tower climbers to share their anchor guy wire inspection safety tips through social interaction on the Association’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Tower climbers, contractors, engineers and vertical realtors are also encouraged to utilize the NATE Anchor Inspection/Safe to Climb Protocol resource as a guideline to ensure that they are adhering to industry protocols when it comes to inspection processes. The NATE Anchor Inspection/Safe to Climb Protocol document is available to download and print HERE.
The Climber Connection Volume 2 campaign was developed by the NATE Member Services Committee in conjunction with the NATE Safety & Education Committee and is designed to provide specific resources and communicate the Association’s message directly to the industry’s elevated workforce.
Visit HERE to access the A10.48 Standard, Broadcast Repack, Riding the Line and UAS Operations videos that were previously released as part of the Volume 2 edition of the Climber Connection Video Series. For more information on NATE, visit www.natehome.com today.
July 11, 2017 —
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) and the Wireless Industry Network (WIN) announced today that they will be hosting a Great Plains Regional Conference on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at the Embassy Suites Hotel – Minneapolis Airport in Bloomington, Minnesota. The conference will focus on key industry safety initiatives and offer tremendous networking and professional development opportunities for attendees.
“This event will offer great educational and networking opportunities as speakers from all facets of the wireless telecom ecosystem will present programs on cutting edge topics,” stated WIN Director Scott Krouse. Presentations will include guyed tower anchor corrosion, unmanned aerial systems, stadium DAS, legal and risk management issues within the industry, and other topics yet to be announced.
NATE members and non-members alike are encouraged to attend this conference. The cost to attend the Great Plains Regional Conference is $75 per person which will include a continental breakfast as well as lunch. Interested attendees are encouraged to register by completing the Registration Form on the NATE website. All completed registration forms and payments should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the NATE office (8 Second Street SE, Watertown, SD 57201) by the registration deadline of Monday, September 11, 2017.
For more information on NATE, WIN and the Great Plains Regional Conference, visitwww.natehome.com.
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
May 30, 2017
The story of Above All Tower Climbing began more than a decade ago, when a 911 call center asked firefighter paramedics Jack and Shama Ray to use their climbing skills for an emergency involving a malfunctioning antenna on a telecommunications tower. The 911 call center couldn’t find a tower crew that was available to fix the antenna and asked if the Rays could do the job. They were willing and able. Jack had received extensive training in high-angle rescue and ropes and rappelling. Shama had extensive leadership experience and had received rescue training in the emergency services. Today, Jack is director of operations for Above All Tower Climbing in Bonne Terre, Missouri, and Shama is the company’s owner and CEO.
“Jack climbed the tower with ease, as if he were born to climb towers, and he fixed the antenna in a timely professional manner,” Shama said. “The center called us back again for 911 work. Then a fire department called us, and then a radio station. We decided that this might make a good part-time business. That was more than 10 years ago.”
Shama said she and Jack started lining up what they needed for a full-time business. They assembled and trained tower crews. In August 2012, they started the business, and after four months they had so much work, they didn’t know what to do with it.
Above All Tower Climbing now does just about every kind of tower work above ground level. “We’re a turnkey company,” Shama said. “We do guy-wire replacement, plumb and tensioning; structural modifications; tower builds; civil work; tower painting and lighting; shelter installing; tree cutting; and maintenance.”
Safety Is Everything
Shama said she and Jack started out as firefighter paramedics and worked their way up. She said they work well together because they both put safety first. “Safety is one of the most important things to me, as the owner of the company,” she said. “I’m highly involved in making sure that my crews are safe and everyone comes home at night.”
Shama developed a dedicated hard-work regimen to pass the rigorous physical exams necessary to become a firefighter, despite her petite frame. “When I first became a firefighter paramedic, I weighed about 95 pounds soaking wet,” she said. “I started out as a paramedic and had leadership responsibilities, and then I decided I wanted to go into the firefighter academy.”
It wasn’t easy to become a firefighter, Shama recalled. “Before you take the firefighter exam, the physical exam, you take a test that you have to complete in seven minutes,” she said. “I trained on a Keiser sled [a simulated forcible-entry sledgehammering machine designed for fire-service training] day after day, hitting it 4 feet one way and then back the other way, to get my time down — and I practiced every day. And, when I finished, my time ended up being about 5:40.” The test simulates the use of a sledge hammer to provide ventilation or to gain entry.
Unlike her husband, Shama had little experience climbing towers. As a firefighter paramedic and chief medical officer, her role was more about leadership. She ran crews and performed teaching and training. As chief medical officer, she was in charge of the safety, training and education of the entire department. “The reason I personally got into tower climbing is because I wanted to know what my crews were going through,” Shama said. “I didn’t know I was going to like climbing.”
Shama initially intended to manage the company and its financials. But she also wanted to experience what her crews faced. Now, if crews come to her and say, “We can’t get this done,” she can reply, “Yes, you can. I’ve done it myself.” Or, on the other hand, she can say, “Yes, you’re right. It’s unsafe. You guys shouldn’t be up there. Pull the crews down.”
The first time her company conducted a training session, Shama said the employees climbed a tower, and she decided to take the training, too. “I went through the training and I loved it,” she said. So, Shama started climbing towers in addition to her management responsibilities. She said with the time it takes to manage the company today, she doesn’t climb towers as much as she used to.
With regular visits to worksites to check on the crews, Shama makes sure that safety requirements are enforced and that the work is going well. “Your crews must be accountable. You have to let them know that you are going to be enforcing the rules and that you are going to be making sure that they’re safe,” she said.
Shama said she believes safety is becoming increasingly important to the tower industry. “I’ve noticed that, from the tower owners to carriers, we are really putting an emphasis on safety,” she said. “I love to see that. I have a passion for safety. Safety has advanced so much from what it was in the old days.”
Business Is Booming
Above All Tower Climbing’s business is starting to boom, and the company is expanding. It recently purchased 27 acres of land. The company is building a facility on its new campus, expected to be completed in late 2017, only five years after Jack and Shama opened its doors. . “We’re putting on three to five more crews initially, and by the end of 2018, we are going to have about 40 crews,” Shama said. She also plans to hire full-time electrical technicians and structural engineers to perform technical work that the company now subcontracts out as needed.
Lately, Above All Tower Climbing has been performing as much tower construction as tower maintenance. “It’s about 50/50 this year,” Shama said. “We’re doing several big tower build projects this year. So far, the company has built about 40 complete towers.”
In addition to cell tower construction and maintenance, the company performs substantial 911 work, drawing on Shama and Jack’s experience in fire and emergency medical service (EMS) work. “We do really well with fire departments, EMS and police departments, and we do some other government work, too,” Shama said. The company also works on radio towers, and Shama said the company is not opposed to offering service for TV broadcasting towers, although it hasn’t yet broken into that market.
These days, Shama said customers seem to be coming to Above All Tower Climbing, so the company has less need to find customers.
“Our company believes in quality, integrity and doing things right the first time,” Shama said. “We believe you can’t cut corners. We’re different from a lot of companies out there — we care about our customers, we care about our employees and, overall, we just care about humanity. We believe in helping people in general. We come from a fire and EMS background, so our roots are in helping people and in doing things the right way.”
Another secret to Above All Tower Climbing’s success lies in its specializing in niche markets. According to Shama, not many tower service companies deal with guy-wire tensioning, installation and removal because of the danger involved. She believes her company can do that kind of work right because it’s so highly involved with training and it makes safety a number one priority.
“There’s nothing that my director of operations — Jack Ray — cannot handle when it comes to mechanics,” Shama said. “He’s not an engineer, but when it comes to engineering, he makes sure everything is done right. We complement each other in a way that just makes our company soar.”
Safety and, in particular, enforcing safety procedures, remain the tower industry’s biggest challenge, Shama said. She believes everything lines up correctly after safety steps are established and followed. “We follow all American National Standards Institute (ANSI), National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) standards and policies,” she said. “We follow what has been set in stone, basically.”
Shama said that she believes that the tower industry’s old-school, I’ve-always-done-it-this-way culture is changing. “Many wireless communications carriers and many tower owners are now enforcing safety from the top,” she said. “You have to start at the top, because if you can’t start there, it’s really hard to enforce safety at the bottom. I believe that once you enforce something from the top, it trickles down.”
Above All Tower Climbing always tries to do things the right way, Shama said, “We don’t cut corners, and we try to work with integrity,” she said. “I try to follow the Good Book. God is important to me. And I owe everything I have and everything in this company to God. I believe that in itself is making sure that we’re able to get out there and let people know who we are. Sometimes we will turn down work if we know it’s not being done with honesty, and especially if we believe things can’t be done safely.”
Mike Harrington is a freelance writer in Prairie Village, Kansas.
Shama Ray, owner and CEO of Above All Tower Climbing, said an important aspect of the tower industry that she has come to appreciate most is role played by the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE).
“NATE makes so many resources available, and they’ve just been so helpful,” she said. “I wish we had joined with them in the very beginning.”
Ray said NATE is especially helpful to smaller companies such as hers. She serves as a committee member of the Women of NATE (WON) and spoke about WON at the NATE southwest conference in Phoenix on May 3.
“Women have come forward in leaps and bounds,” Ray said. “People are starting to see that women do have a lot to offer to the tower industry. I just feel like it’s a great combination. Men and women don’t think the same. They have two different points of view to offer. And when it comes to safety, it’s very important to make sure you’ve gone over every possible scenario. You must make sure that everything is being done, and that there’s no way something can go wrong.”
May 18, 2017 —
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has released the new Anchor Inspection/Safe to Climb Protocol document. Corrosion, an electrochemical process, returns refined steel back to its native state. A lingering question in the tower industry has been, at what point do guy anchors return to their native state? Owners, managers and field staff can now reference the Anchor Inspection/Safe to Climb Protocol document to aid them in making a “judgment call” on whether or not to climb a tower without foreknowledge on the condition of the underground anchors.
As we have seen in the past, the results of not doing anything have been and can be catastrophic. This has always been a challenging subject in our industry as we continue down the path of the reality that is competitive bidding. Fortunately, we have had many leaders in our industry working diligently for many years on this problem, but we as an association need to continue to build on the ideas and effort that they have put forth. We need to continue to bring awareness within our industry on this out-of-site and unfortunately sometimes out-of-mind issue.
CLICK HERE to view the Anchor Inspection/Safe to Climb Protocol Document.