Standing up Down for Tower Climber Protection

Over the past fourteen days, millions of workers across the country have took part in a National Safety Stand-Down to avoid Falls in Construction. This voluntary annual event, coordinated by the Section of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is an chance to take time out of busy work schedules for training to ensure the safety of those basically at heights and to prevent harmful falls.

In this year’s Safety Stand-Down, companies involved in tower system climbing work across the country, from Texas to South Dakota, Michigan in order to Maine, New Jersey to New York and Pennsylvania to Florida, used the Protection Stand-Down as an opportunity to have devoted training on safety. We applaud the companies that participated and we encourage the entire tower climbing industry in order to refocus on safety given what is at stake.

To put this particular in perspective, let’s take a look at the particular numbers. According to OSHA, there were twelve fatalities in 2014 involving focus on communications towers, following 14 deaths in 2013. Although the trend series in fatalities is currently declining, one fatality is one fatality too many.

For our part, the FCC has been working with a variety of parties to improve tower climber safety. Last Oct, the FCC and OSHA with each other hosted a widely attended course at FCC Headquarters focused on tower system climber safety, and announced the particular formation of a working group in order to encourage best practice adoption through the entire industry. Our working group can be continuing to work with stakeholders on publicizing practices that improve safety.

The Safety Stand-Down was an ideal time to redouble efforts to deal with the preventable breakdowns in safety techniques that result in fatalities and injuries. To this end, we expect and encourage the industry to implement guidelines that identify and address particular risks, both ongoing and job-specific. Working together with climbers and regulators, the industry can make progress on this critical issue so that our ongoing deployment associated with newer and faster wireless networks can be as safe as it is robust.

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