Tag Archives: cell tower safety

A Quick Note on First Climbs

OK, I thought I would share some information about how to handle the first climb. Not everyone goes to Tower Safety training on day one, (Tower Safety is my sponsor). The probably shouldn’t because if they go to tower safety class on day one then that will be their first climb, at the class. That’s OK if that’s your structure. But what if they hate climbing? Do they know that before they climb, not always.

By the way, Dr Hester of the Hubble Foundation is looking for comments on this,  bridgette@hubblefoundation.org.

This has sparked a lot of controversy when the information came out about the Stephanie Gurney, posted here and Wireless Estimator has it here.


So with the first climb, what can you do to make sure the climber is safe? Do you just send them up the tower and hope for the best? That’s what I did when I went up the first time, and I would never let anyone do that again, it was stupid and I would like to think we have learned.

I would recommend this procedure.

  • Before sending someone up the first time I would recommend that they actually help out with a tower crew on the ground first so they are familiar with the hardware and structure of what is going on. How long is up to you. I think that 2 weeks is the minimum.
  • Then when you send them up the tower the first time I recommend that you take every precaution. I would send up the experienced person first and have them rig a safety line up high. Then make sure the new climber has a rope grab on them at all times. That way if they can’t handle the safety lanyard they will have the rope grab as a backup. I don’t care if it’s cumbersome and a pain to use, it insures they have a backup safety line no matter what. Make sure they know and understand how to use the safety lanyard and the positioning lanyard. Go up with them if possible.
  • Take the first climb very seriously. Make sure that the climber knows you are near.
  • Limit the climb to 50 feet or less until you know they are very comfortable.

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OK, excuses:

  • We don’t have time!
    1. Will you have time to bury them?
  • That costs extra money.
    1. What does a funeral cost? What about a lawsuit? What about a life?
  • If they say they are ready, then they are ready.
    1. You won’t know until they do it.
  • I know this person, they have no fear.
    1. It’s not about just fear, it’s about skill!
  • They say they are ready.
    1. Wouldn’t you say that if you needed a job?
  • I don’t’ want to embarrass them in front of the crew.
    1. Do you want them to die in front of the crew?

To sum it up, I would be overly cautious, safety takes time and money. Unfortunately many companies just don’t care. However, many do care and to those owners I say thank you and keep up the good work!

One more note, when I got certified under Winton Wilcox, he had everyone wear a rope grab. It just made sense.  First guy up rigged the safety lines.

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

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OSHA RFI Response for Hazards and Incidents

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Update on the RFI response: Let me start by saying thank you to the 929 people that got on Wireless Estimator to respond to the OSHA Tower climber RFI and the 29 people who uploaded their RFI response directly to OSHA as of May 28th, 2015. Thank you. Apparently there are less than 1,000 people in the US that really want to direct OSHA. From the feedback I am getting the rest of you think it’s all up to the climber. That’s fine, it just does not align with what many of you told me earlier. I just needed to know where we stand, that’s all. Many of you complained prior to the RFI, so I guess that was the 958 people that responded with input. Many of you were afraid of your companies, maybe they would fire you, and so you did it anonymously, which is great, because you responded. Thank you all! I guess the rest of you are fine with the way things are, great! I can see where it is such an inconvenience to take 30 minutes out of your life to help OSHA improve the rules for safety specifically for tower climbing and tower safety, it’s a real burden. After all, many of you think we were better off before OSHA and the DOL existed, probably even feel that way about the FCC.

Here is my full response in a PDF. Go ahead and download it to look it over. This is what I sent to the FCC.

To update the RFI click here to go to Wireless Estimator or click here to go to the FCC site. You can submit anonymously if you want to. Deadline is June 15th, 2015!

Hazards and Incidents

  1. Falls: Falls are currently the leading cause of fatalities among communication tower workers. OSHA believes that many falls result from the improper use of fall protection equipment or the failure to use any fall protection equipment at all.
  2. How are employers addressing fall hazards?
    • 100% Tie off.
  1. Are employers providing appropriate fall protection equipment to employees? Is it maintained and replaced when necessary?
  • Many are and most of them do maintain it. It varies from company to company and many make that decision based on budget.
  1. What factors contribute to employees failing to use fall protection while climbing or working?
  • Common sense and safety. If someone is not using it then they are not trained properly or the company did not provide it or they are stupid. Probably a combination of all 3.
  1. Are there situations in which conventional fall protection (safety nets or personal fall arrest systems) is infeasible? What alternatives can employees use for fall protection in those situations?
  • There can be situations like that and each one should be treated as a one-off. They should always be able to use some type of fall protection. If there is a situation like that at a tower site then the owner should put something in to make sure the worker is safe. It would be a hazard once but then safe for every worker after that.
  1. What are the ways in which fall protection systems or anchorage points on communication towers can fail? How can these failures be prevented?
  • Often times they are not installed. If there is a cable grab, they need to maintained and inspected. Preferable annually but every 3 years would be good. Anchor points, if installed, should also be inspected every 3 years. Climbing pegs should be inspected and replaced as needed.
  1. Should OSHA require built-in fall protection measures on new towers? Existing towers? Would such a requirement enhance worker safety?
  • Definitely on new towers, there is no reason not to. On existing tower I believe so, but it would be an expensive venture. Perhaps on all towers built over the last 5 or 10 years would be reasonable.
  1. Structural issues: When new equipment is added to communication towers, the additional loading of the tower has the potential to overload or destabilize the structure. Older towers may need additional reinforcements to maintain their structural integrity as new equipment is added to them. Communication tower collapses have resulted in numerous fatalities in the past two years. Which contractual party bears responsibility for ensuring that any structural work on the tower—such as modification or demolition—is done safely from a structural perspective? What steps are employers currently taking to prevent collapses?
  • Responsibility: That lies with the team, the tower owner, the structural engineer, the customer, and the crew doing the work. The customer needs to require that the structural engineer not only provides the loading requirements and the upgrades, but also a procedure to do the upgrade. The tower owner needs to approve the plan, and the tower crew needs to understand and sign off that they can do the work properly.
  • Steps taken – Most companies are reviewing the upgrade plans and verifying their steps with their given experiences. The crews and structural engineers need to be on the same page.
  1. Hoisting materials and personnel: Base-mounted drum hoists are often used to hoist materials and personnel to working heights on communication towers. Hazards arise if hoists that are not rated for lifting personnel are used for that purpose. OSHA is aware of incidents in which hoists have failed under such conditions. Also, overloading material hoists and improper rigging procedures can result in loads striking the tower structure or workers located on the tower. OSHA knows of several deaths in the past two years that have resulted from these types of incidents.
  2. When are personnel hoists used?
  • In my experience, rarely.
  1. What types of hazards are associated with personnel and material hoists? What are the best practices for safely managing those hazards?
  • You need to have the proper winch and a good operator.
  1. How are capstan hoists used in tower work? In what types of operations can they be used safely?
  • In my experience, to raise equipment, and I have never had a problem with one as long as the operator is qualified and paying attention. They can be used safely if inspected and the operator is qualified.
  1. What are the most common types of rigging hazards that occur on communication tower work sites? What can employers do to eliminate or minimize those hazards?
  • Often, people don’t know the load rating of the block or they choose a poor termination point for the block. Also, rope needs to be inspected. I have seen rope failures due to crappy rope. It needs to be inspected and replaced. There should always be spare rope available for any job. Winch failures happen, although I have never had that problem because we maintained our winches, but they do fail and usually at the worst of times. One more thing, all the workers need to pay attention. If one worker rigs the tower for a light load and then the ground crew tries to pull a heavy load, bad things happen.
  1. Are there methods, other than the use of a hoist or a crane that can be used to lift material and personnel at a communication tower? Which methods and procedures are the safest?
  • If you can’t pull it up by hand or carry it, I don’t see another way to get it up there. Maybe someday drones will be strong enough to carry payloads.
  1. What are the roles of different levels of the contracting chain in managing rigging and hoisting activities?
  • Not sure I understand the question, contracting chain confuses me. However, on site I can explain the on site work. Guys on the tower choose the anchor point, knowing what they expect to pull up. They also anchor it based on load, obstructions, mounting location on the tower, and access. Then the block is attached to the tower using straps, steel cable, or carabiners. Then, depending on the weight of the load the ground crew will operate the winch or pull it up. The ground team is responsible for attaching the load to the rope/cable properly not only so it can be held on the way up but also so it can be positioned properly for the attachment of the item to the tower. They need to plan out how to rig it so that the equipment can swing into the tower with the attachment points where they need to go, or at least very close. Then there is a tag line on the ground. A rope is attached to the load to make sure that the load is swinging out from the tower and does not hit anything on the way up. The tag line is there to ensure that the load flies in the direction that you need it to go. It is also there so control the load in the wind. Wind is a huge factor. You do not want to destroy anything that belongs to someone else nor do you want to destroy your load.
  1. Radio Frequency Hazards: Much research has been done on the health effects of overexposure to radio frequencies. General health effects reviews have found that high levels of exposure to radio frequencies may result in burns. In addition, the link between exposure to radio frequencies and cancer, reproductive diseases, and neurological effects has not been thoroughly explored.
  2. What methods are employers using to protect workers from overexposure to radio frequency?
  • Several things, site and tower inspections looking for dangers like Sirius/XM and antennas and broadcast. This should be part of the hazard assessments and a requirement. Also, RF exposure meters, like the NARDA.
  1. Is there a need for employers to institute comprehensive radio frequency monitoring programs on communication tower work sites? What would a good program look like?
  • Yes, it would be simple, add it to the hazard assessment, require RF safety training, and assign each climber a RF exposure meter with the requirement that they have it on their body at all times. They would need to be trained to use the meter properly and they would need to keep the batteries charged. It should be a require part of all climbers PPE.
  1. Weather: Communication tower workers work outside during all seasons, and in all climates. They can be exposed to heat, cold, wind, snow, and ice. Storm conditions can quickly arise when workers are at elevation, and it can be difficult to descend the tower quickly.
  2. What are the specific weather-related hazards to which communication tower workers are exposed?
  • Hot – Heat exhaustion, sun stroke, dehydration, severe sun burn.
  • Cold – frostbite, hypothermia, numbness and stiffness causing climbing difficulties.
  • Lightning, always a risk, most climbers are usually off the tower or safely attached to the tower during a storm, but still a risk.
  • Ice – Falling ice is a risk, could fall on the ground people. Climbing an icy tower should never be done but some people break the ice off as they go up.
  1. How does a crew monitor and respond to changing weather conditions, including storms?
  • Weather report, smart phone apps, and simply look at the sky.
  1. Fatigue: OSHA believes that fatigue can affect communication tower workers in several says. Climbing a communication tower is physically demanding, and OSHA is concerned that fatigue due to exertion can be hazardous for tower workers. Accelerated work timelines can also result in tower workers working very long hours. And OSHA understands that communication tower workers may travel long distances to reach remote work sites, which can result in workers being fatigued before they even begin work.
  2. What hazards are faced by a worker who finds it physically challenging to perform expected tasks, such as climbing a tower or performing a self-rescue? What impact can this have on other crew members?
  • Falling is the biggest risk for everyone. If a climber is getting tired to the point where they can’t get down, then they need to be rescued. Many times the climber can tie off, drink some water, and rest. The workmates should be aware of the condition of the climber but if they are not paying attention then they will be responsible for the rescue. IF the climber is too tired to climb, he probably shouldn’t attempt self rescue, but controlled descent is easier than climbing so it may be a viable alternative.
  1. What are the common causes of worker fatigue at communication tower work sites?
  • Long days, heavy lifting, extreme weather.
  1. What are the effects of fatigue on tower worker safety, and what types of incidents occur as a result of worker fatigue?
  • If a worker gets too tired they make mistakes, not only the obvious physical mistakes like falling or dropping things, but mental mistakes and miscalculations. Not only for that day but they will be hurting for the next day or 2 and should be grounded so they don’t continue to be at risk. This puts more work on the workmates to perform. If all 4 crew members are climbers, then they should shuffle the work on those long days even if they alternate climbing duties daily. They should log their high time to make sure this happens.
  1. Other common hazards:
  2. What other hazards are present in communication tower work, and what types of incidents are resulting from those hazards? What can be done to protect employees from those hazards?
  • Bee stings, allergies, snake bites, spider bites, over exertion, crushed limbs, broken bones, Carpal tunnel, long-term RF exposure, auto accidents, stress due to being away from home causing depression, stress of working a high rick job, bird poop, chemicals, long-term sun exposure.
  1. What are some health and safety considerations involved in working with communications equipment installed on non-dedicated tower structures, such as water towers, buildings, silos, electrical transmission towers, etc.?
  • Each structure has a dedicated risk, there are too many to mention and each structure should be looked into individually. I will list a few here.
  • Water Towers – many people don’t realize how the water tower slopes off so they should be tied off 100% of the time when working there. Also, climbing up some of them you are in a confined space which could have problems.
  • Electrical tower – must be certified to work on these, the risk of shock is too great.
  • Buildings – safety issues, poorly maintain rooftops, should have a wall or rail or the climber should be tied off, bird poop piles up in many of these, trip hazards, low overhead in some areas, hi RF areas.
  • Silos – usually remote, not always structurally sound, environmental issues, animal and insect issues

 Tell me what you think!

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Most Cited OSHA Violations in 2014


This is for October 2013 to September 2014 (Source www.ConstructionDataQuarterly.com) I am putting this out because it is a good idea to see how busy the OSHA department really is. I understand that we want them to concentrate on the wireless business but the reality is that they cover all workers in the USA. This is no easy task and here you can see the violations that piled up over the previous year.

  • Fall Protection, Section 1926.501, Duty to have Fall Protection, 6,064 citations.
  • Scaffold, Section 1926.451, General Requirements, 3,834 citations.
  • Ladders, Section 1926.1053, Ladders, 2,361 citations.
  • Fall Protection Training, Section 1926.503, Training Requirements, 1,461 citations.
  • Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment, Section 1926.102, Eye and Face Protection, 1,051 citations.
  • Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment, Section 1926.100, Head Protection, 893 citations.
  • Toxic and Hazardous Substances, Section 1926.1200, Hazard Communication, 821 citations.
  • General Safety and Health Provisions, Section 1926.20, General Safety and Health Provisions, 757 citations.
  • Scaffolds, section 1926.453, Aerial Lifts, 721 citations.
  • Excavations, Section 1926.6512, 614 citations.

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We always want them to do more, but they need the resources to do it. Believe it or not OSHA is doing all that they can to make elevated workers safe, are you? What have you done? Did you complete the OSHA RFI? If not, why not! Don’t be a slacker or a deadbeat, complete the OSHA RFI today! Wireless Estimator OSHA RFI entry website found here.

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention. Help spread the word of safe climbing!

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Deadly Lies and Feedback

Deadly Lies:

I heard about this firsthand when someone came looking for information. Wireless Estimator wrote about it here. What happened was someone called several people stating that a climber fell and died. This type of thing worries so many people. We have enough problems in this industry without people making up stories about death. I don’t know the whole story, but I will tell you that someone thought it would be funny to make up a story that a climber had died. To call people and then put it on Facebook that a fellow climber, a towerdog, a brother in climbing, had fallen. This happened about 2 weeks ago.

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OK, to start with I think that people out there need to understand that many people really care about the industry, so when someone says something like this because they think it’s funny, they cause sleepless nights. They cause OSHA and climbing groups to research the facts. They waste a lot of time of many people because of some sick joke, a sick prank. I get calls all the time of past and present problems, some true and some made up. I research issues and I understand that there are so many angry people in this industry that want to make it look worse that it already does. With so many people working around the clock to make this industry a better place, it’s a shame that there are a few people giving it a bad name.

If you know one of these people, deal with them accordingly. They really are not an asset to the industry nor to anything in the wireless profession. They are a disappointment to not only to the wireless industry, but to themselves as well. I like to think that we can all learn from this. Unfortunately, next time something terrible happens we will need to say, prove it because of people like this.

All I can do is complain about and, forget about it, then move on and be thankful that the FCC and DOL are working together to understand the industry and make the workplace safer than it has ever been in the USA.

For the person that started this rumor, congratulations, you made some people worry and feel like crap because they genuinely care about other people and the industry. As you sit at home this weekend and laugh at the pain you caused, at the company you slandered, and at the profession you maligned you can be proud that you were able to sink to a new low by setting the standard for decency even lower.

For everyone else – Do me a favor, don’t be despicable, be decent and make the world a better place by helping each other out. Helping each other takes time and effort but it’s worth it. There are so many good people in this industry. So many people who do good things for as many other people as they can reach. I am thankful for that. I worked and talked to many of those people. So let’s work together to make this a better work place. We all make mistakes, so let’s forgive, get over it, and push forward.

In my opinion, the wireless industry is a great work place. I get frustrated at times and like any business you have scum buckets. Then you meet people who really care and want to make their work shine, people that really care about each other, then I have hope that wireless is the best industry to work in ever.


I got quite a bit of feedback on the post, “My Company won’t Pay Me, Now What?” so here is some of it.

Comment: The only comment I have is to NEVER spend your own money for supplies.  You are a naive sucker if you do.  Plus, it will save you all the trouble of doing what this gentleman had to do.  These companies for the most part will take advantage of you if you give them the opportunity. If they want a project finished badly enough, they will get the supplies to you.

My response: Good advice to follow, I learned the hard way, much of that depends on who you work for.

Comment: I’m very happy that you ultimately got paid – sorry that you had to spend even five minutes fighting for what was yours to begin with.
I complain on one axiom you mentioned:
“they thought they would get away with because this company did business by not paying unless they absolutely had to … “
This should have been worked out unambiguously, immediately before signing on as an employee or contractor.  I’m not chastising you – I’ve been burnt before – became wiser afterwards, immediately. I got burned once – never again. I recouped my stolen loot – and will die with the secret as to how I did it. I surely wish all of you who trust people [companies] – only because you’re trustworthy yourselves, will learn as quickly that snake oil people are embedded even in Fortune 500 Companies.

My response: It actually was worked out in my work contract, that is why I got paid, and thank you for understanding. You are correct, I am wiser now and I pay attention to how the company does business, that matters. I research a company and the people who are in management before I work there. I worked for a company that didn’t get paid and they went to court and won, yay, however they still didn’t get paid. Just because you have it in writing doesn’t mean they will pay you, it only means you won and that you may have to go back to court again. I have seen some companies spend more time working not to pay people than working to make a profit.

Comment: Wade,
I’m glad you (a) sought out an attorney to find out about your rights, and (b) the attorney you spoke with gave you sound counsel.
Sadly what you experienced is more common than most people realize, and many just give up.  I’m very happy that you stood your ground and fought for what you had earned. Jonathan Kramer, Esq. Telecom Law FIrm, P.C.

My response: Thank you sir!

Comment: Worked for them a few years back. They decided to close the Dallas office without warning while my crew was on the road. We were left high and dry, and told we could just go home. The XXXXXX brothers have a history. Glad you could fight for yours.

My response: Thank you!

Comment: Hi
Good work you have done!
The industry is full of bad moral.
I have worked as self-employed in Denmark for many years.
At several occasions the customer will not pay.
It is much too easy. They can do it with no risk.
The customer get a free credit and probably a discount, due to a compromise. I have always made a legal case against these companies.
The law should be changed in a way, so that the companies risk a penalty if they don’t pay what they owe you!

My response: Thank you!

OK, that’s it for this week and there is much more in the podcast so listen there for more information.
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Know your SOW and more Feedback

Hello everybody! First off, if you didn’t see there is a warning sent out about a safety climb. Capital Safety put out a press release that their 3/8” 7X19 strand galvanized cable, also known as “Safety Climb System” could have slippage issues. All the more reason to tie off 100% even when using a safety climb. Read the notice, I have the line here. While not a recall it is a warning so read the document so you understand what is going on. Does anyone remember that not long ago there recently was a snap hooks recall?

RIP James Linstedt.

Today I am going to discuss the Scope of Work, SOW, for all of you who just go out and do what you’re told. It would be a great idea for everyone who is at the site the review the SOW. I am working on a book that reviews all of the paperwork that the tower worker will be dealing with.

The SOW will have the outline of the job. It should be put together so that you know what duties are required of you. For instance you will need to know what you are installing. You will be putting in just the equipment on the tower or both the base station and the tower. If you are installing microwave, what is your responsibility? Are you doing the installation and the alignment? What are you doing?

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Where are you working? This should be part of the SOW as a site list. The site list is a separate document that you will be working with but it should be attached to the SOW as an addendum.

What parts do you need? You should have a Bill of Materials, BOM, as an attachment. This is very important because if you pick up the parts at the warehouse and don’t review the BOM, guess who’s fault it is if you miss something. YOU! YOU! YOU! If you miss a part that is on the BOM and you don’t get it, you messed up. Make sure when you hit the staging warehouse you look at the BOM and check off each part you need. If you are doing the install and you need a part that is not on the BOM, guess what, it’s the customers charge and a change order so you can charge for the labor and part to add it. However, if your people put a clause in the SOW that says you will supply miscellaneous parts, then you need to define miscellaneous parts. Why does this matter, because your customer will consider 200’ of #2 copper as miscellaneous and you may have meant zip ties and vapor seal, that’s why! If you’re asking what the difference is, the maybe you should look for a new line of work. Don’t be an airhead!

So, when I put my package together I will explain the SOW and I will give you an example and I will give you audio to talk about it. I should have something out here in the next 2 weeks or so. I am putting together something for all of the paperwork so everyone can get on the same page and understand what to look for and how to write the SOW. I just need to complete it and I will put it out to you guys.

Now, I have 2 feedback statements I want to share.

Feedback on tower owners:

First off, I have to take back what I said about American Tower not inspecting sites annually. I heard back from one of their people and he told me that at a minimum they inspect the towers annually. He knew the FCC lighting regulations inside and out but he said that with or without light, they make it to every tower at least once a year. That is awesome! Think about it, they have over 28,000 towers in the USA according to http://www.americantower.com/corporateus/investor-relations/. From what I hear they are on top of site inspections. So if something is wrong at the site, maybe you should let them know.

Feedback on Training:

OK, this is great to hear that someone would send their people to IRATA training to improve safety. Here is the statement, “Hi Wade, we got IRATA certified so we could deal with wide face towers safely.  Now we use roped access on many jobs that don’t strictly speaking require it as it’s a safer alternative to relying on fall arrest and once the ropes are rigged often many more times efficient too :)” This is awesome and it’s nice to see some super responsible people out there! This came from the UK by the way, they go the extra mile!

Feedback on TIRAP:

It appears that a professional climber out there is happy that TIRAP is happening. This man is willing to help create the climbers bible, how cool is that. Here is the statement, “Finally! Now we might even be recognized for the skilled work we do under VERY hazardous conditions on a daily basis.  Now, maybe the green guys will understand that 2 yrs. DOESN’T make you a professional yet. But, give it time and actually LEARN from older and more experienced guys. It’s all in the details. I’d like to collaborate with anyone interested in writing a “climbers bible”. Let me tell you something, when you climb for 10 years you begin to learn something. However, you need to keep a good positive attitude. Here is someone who I am going to reach out to so we can collaborate on putting more information out there.

Just to be fair, I did get plenty of negative feedback saying that the industry does not need to follow TIRAP nor do they need to issue this directive. I am surprised by how many people think this is a bad idea. Someone reminded me that this is a recommendation and it is not a requirement. I look at this as a step in the right direction. I am shocked that so many people see this as a bad thing, what a shame. The industry cries for change and improvement and now that it is being recognized and improved it seems people are angry about change. I get it, there are many good tower crews, safe and without incident, but for every 10 safe crews there’s probably at least one crew that just won’t follow the safety practiced recommended just because it costs too much. OSHA just caught someone who didn’t follow the safe climb rules, Morlan Enterprises got a $52K fine on July of 2014. Go ahead and take chances and see if OSHA cares or if the whistle-blower rules matter. Whistle blower fact sheet here! OSHA is your friend, the FCC is your friend, and they are here to help. While we may not always agree with them, in the end they are really here to make our lives safer and better.

Tell me what you think!

Other notes:

I have been talking to Bridgette Hester who is working diligently to make the Hubble Foundation do as much as possible. She just awarded another scholarship award to Carrie Plants, who lost her husband Daniel Plants back in 2007. This is part of the Widow’s Fund that Gette has created. For all of you climbers out there let us not forget the fallen, they may be gone but they are not forgotten! Let’s all say it together, “Way to go Gette, Way to GO!” She sis so much with passion, just one woman, than most groups could do.


By the way, NATE started the Tower Family Foundation and they already have $400,000, yes, $400K to give out to tower climbers families. I can’t wait to see where the money is going to go, that seems to be the one thing we are waiting for. They can do so much good for all the families we lost in the past 2 years!

Next podcast I interview a SPRAT 3 level trained climbing instructor Todd Horning of Safety One, cool guy and passionate about safety and rope access! His information is here.

2 books!

“Tower Climbing: An Introduction” is for the new tower climber, the green hand, to understand that will be expected.

“Field Worker’s Aid for Tower Work” is a handy aid to help out when you are at the site.

You may expand to other jobs in the industry. This can be the beginning of a great career path in the wireless industry. Whether you decide to keep climbing or find another opportunity, the industry is large and growing!


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Inspection of Full Body Harness

How Carabiners are made

Fines: OSHA vs. FCC

First off, thank you for all the near miss stories, I appreciate it! Link is here if you missed it. Keep them coming!

Let’s talk fines and how the FCC and OSHA fines compare. I wanted to go over what the FCC and OSHA are up against. They both issue a lot of fines and many of them take research. The FCC covers so many issue as does OSHA. All that we see is our world and the problems we face. We cry for help because we are losing fellow climbers. We are asking OSHA to help and now the FCC has joined our cause. I thought I would show you how many fines and all the work both organizations do. These guys mostly hear us whine and complain, but there are people working hard in the groups that are trying to make a difference. While I don’t agree with all of the fines, I find them all interesting. This may help us understand why they are taking so long to do anything. That is, we understand unless you know someone who died. Then all this seems unimportant because they need to step in to make sure it never happens again. Look at the losses in the tower industry this year and you see that several of the fallen were older. They were in their 30s and 40s. We need to find out what is happening, and we have been asking OSHA to help. Remember that several climbers were injured and stuck on towers and had to be rescued by fireman after waiting for EMS to respond after the 911 call. Our industry needs help.

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So I was reading an article, http://www.somdnews.com/article/20140730/NEWS/140739911/1045&source=RSS&template=gazette, where the FCC imposed a $10,400 fine, reduced from $13,000, for tower lights that were out. The FCC fined Washington Gas for a 2010 Frederick Tower light outage. Washington Gas did notify the FAA immediately, but 4 days after the outage. This is the reason for the fine. I don’t know the circumstances but just bare with me so I can make a point.

OSHA fined S & S Tower Company $14,000 for a tower collapse that killed 2 tower climbers causing a second tower collapse that killed a fireman. In this case three people died, and the fine was slightly more. This was the second violation for this company. However, this seemed to be an accident.

Now looking at this I have to wonder if the FCC has more clout in the government or how the fines for 2 penalties that are drastically different can be so close in dollar amount. Does this make sense to anyone? I think that it’s time that the Department of Labor and the FCC collaborate on how the fines are issued. Something appears to be very wrong here.

Listen, fines are tough, and I have never been on a crew that got any, thank GOD, but I do know that they should be fair. These are 2 incidents that warrant fines as the law is written, but it seems that the heavy fine for the light outage seems excessive and the fine for the fatalities seems light. My opinion!

Now, if you look at how OSHA hammered Morlan Enterprises back on February 25th, 2014, when they saw 2 employees climbing without the proper climbing gear, on a monopole surrounded by trees. They hammered them with $35,000 in fines. No previous violations, but this was a willful violation who was the first to violate the rule stating that workers must have effective fall protection. Keep in mind this was a willful violation, they willingly decided to ignore the safety rules set by OSHA!

So to give you an overview of all the fines, OSHA handed out 8,241 fines for Fall Protection violations in 2013 according to this article. Fall violations were #1 in OSHA’s fine list. They do not take it lightly for any industry.

Now for the FCC it is much harder to count and separate the fines. So I went to their headlines screen here and loaded the data into Excel and here is what I saw was around 90 total fines issued in 2014. The FCC fines are very complicated for the most part. They range from fencing violations to Emergency alert violations to fining Intel for importing unapproved smart phones and tablet. By the way, Wal-Mart was fined $120K for wireless mic marketing issues!

So to sum this up, in the wireless communications tower industry we have needs but these departments are overseeing a ton of industries. So because the tower work is small they tend to get overlooked. I think that the 13 deaths last year and the 9 deaths this year have changed that. I also think that the record hiring rate of green climbers is going to change things. We want everyone to be safe and look out for each other. We need these people to be trained properly and to gain experience from experience. The FCC and OSHA are doing what they can with what they got. What about you? Are you doing what you can to train new climbers or do you sit there and say that someone should do something? I wrote this and I am trying to get the word out beyond Facebook, show some support.

So my question to you, the reader (or listener), what do you think is fair? Is this another government oversight where they just issue fines without a thought standard across the industry? Should the FCC work with OSHA to issue fines in the communications industry? What do you think is fair?

Email me at wade4wireless@gmail.com or message me on Facebook or leave the information below. Or call and leave a message at my Google voice mail at 510-516-4283.

But wait, there’s more!

Following these fines, I think that it’s time that OSHA niches down to have a specific division that can concentrate specifically on the tower industry. Even if it’s just one guy. Or maybe listen to the complaints that roll in. Could we do that? They dish out many fines, but they only have so many resources, they need a specialist for the tower industry.

OSHA news:




 FCC news:




 Other tower and broadcast related FCC fines;

  • * We impose a penalty of $15,000 against Jean Richard Salvador for operating an unlicensed FM radio station on the frequency 89.5 MHz in Miami, Florida. Although Mr. Salvador denies operating the unlicensed station in September 2013, he did not dispute that he operated the station in June or July of 2013. *
  • We propose a penalty of $10,000 against Duhamel Broadcasting Enterprises (Duhamel), for failing to ensure that its antenna structure was properly illuminated. Although Duhamel believed that the structure did not require lighting because of its position in a three-tower array, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notified Duhamel officially that lighting was required for the antenna structure. Given that public safety is at risk when antenna structures are not properly illuminated, Duhamel’s failure to light the structure after the FAA notification warrants a significant penalty. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL), we find that Duhamel, owner of antenna structure number 1042912 in Rapid City, South Dakota (Antenna Structure), apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 303(q) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), and Sections 17.23 and 17.48(a) of the Commission’s rules (Rules), by failing to exhibit required lighting on the Antenna Structure during nighttime hours and for failure to notify the FAA immediately that the Antenna Structure was not lit. We conclude that Duhamel is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
  • We propose a penalty of $25,000 against CMARR, Inc. (CMARR), for apparently willfully interfering with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) weather radar in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by operating radio transmitters without a license. Given the risk to public safety created by CMARR’s unlicensed operations, and the fact that CMARR had already received a warning for similar violations, these actions warrant a significant penalty.
  • In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find that CMARR, operator of an Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (U-NII) transmission system in San Juan, Puerto Rico, apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 301 and 333 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act),[1] by causing interference to the FAA by operating an intentional radiator without a license. We conclude that CMARR is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).
  • We propose a penalty of $7,000 against Sound Communications, LLC (Sound Communications) for apparently failing to enclose AM Station WENY’s antenna structure in Southport, New York, within an effective locked fence.       Sound Communications admitted to leaving a gate unlocked for several days so that personnel from a tower repair company could gain access to the antenna structure site in order to prepare a bid for a repair project. The unlocked gate was of particular concern to FCC agents because the antenna structure is located in a residential neighborhood.
  • In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL), we find that Sound Communications, licensee of Station WENY and owner of antenna structure number 1053420 (Antenna Structure) in Southport, New York, apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 73.49 of the Commission’s rules (Rules),[2] by failing to enclose the antenna structure within an effective locked fence. We conclude that Sound Communications is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of seven thousand dollars ($7,000).

OSHA fines for tower companies (OSHA cites many companies but I only see a few violations in the past few months);

  • COOLVILLE, Ohio Two workers were free climbing, or climbing without safety lines, a 195-foot communication tower under construction without adequate fall protection in Coolville. As a result, Morlan Enterprises has been cited for one willful and eight serious safety violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA has proposed penalties of $52,500.
  • CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Following the collapse of a Clarksburg communication tower in February 2014 that seriously injured two and claimed the lives of two employees and a volunteer firefighter, S and S Communication Specialists Inc. has been cited for two serious workplace safety violations. The citations issued to the Hulbert, Oklahoma-based Company follow an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.


Tower fatalities from OSHA;

6/17/2014 Microwave Transmission Systems Inc., San Angelo, TX 76903 Worker died after falling from tower. Fatality
3/25/2014 Wireless Horizon, Westmoreland, KS 66549 Two workers killed when a wireless communications tower collapsed. Fatality
3/19/2014 Redwing Electric, LLC, Pasadena, MD 21122 Worker killed in fall from water tower. Fatality
2/1/2014 S. & S. Communication Specialist Inc., Clarksburg, WV 26301 Two workers killed in a communications tower collapse. Fatality
11/22/2013 Optica Network Technologies, N. Wichita, KS 67219 Maintenance worker died in fall from communication tower. Fatality

Dehydration alert!

Remember what Art Seely, (the CEO at Safety One International Training and a senior paramedic, http://safetyoneinc.com/) says, “A summer climber needs fluid with electrolytes such as a diluted 50% Gatorade mixture to drink at 10 minute intervals. The only disadvantage to 50% diluted Gatorade is the stomach “sees” the nutrients in the solution and immediately passes the fluid on to the small intestine where the absorption rate is only 1/3 as fast as if the fluid stayed in the stomach. With pure water the fluid stays in the stomach and is more quickly passed to the blood stream. Once in the blood stream the rehydration progresses next to the cells and finally to the interstitial spaces. The point of mentioning that is that even though a climber feels better after rehydrating from serious dehydration he should wait at least 12 hours to resume any significant work. In winter climbs the majority of the fluid loss is through the surface of the lungs which unlike perspiration does not upset electrolyte balance and water is a great substitute to drink before, during and after the climb… In either case once you have a victim on a tower or on the ground the initial attempts at “fluid resuscitation” should always utilize water at close to body temperature. As with all victims they must be able to hold the fluid container and drink from it themselves, do not attempt to pour it into their mouth as vomiting and aspiration resulting in a delayed bacterial pneumonia is a likely result and that can easily be fatal without prompt hospitalization. Once the victim’s symptoms start to improve then if they were in a hot environment you can start with Gatorade at 50% or 100% concentrations.

We need the Hubble Foundation now more than ever, and they need your support. Will you give today?

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By the way, I am planning to put out some more books, this time on scopes of work, Bill of materials, and other useful information for the workers. Let me know what you think. I am working on 2 new projects,  a new book that outlines my different jobs in the industry and a library of reference material that you can access quickly to take to the site. I want to see you make the site safer with quick reference material. If you have any idea of what you need out there let me know. Is this going to help you? Let me know on Facebook, wade4wireless@gmail.com or leave a comment or leave a message at 510-516-4283

Another fallen tower worker in Stockton!

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Updated links, he was a tower painter and the accident was at 13668 E Morseville Rd, in Stockton, Ill. on Sunday afternoon around 1:48PM local time. He apparently fell from 80 to 90 feet. Thomas Lucas of Toledo, Il, was 49 years old.





Another fallen worker, another loss in the industry. As seen in Wireless Estimator, http://www.wirelessestimator.com/breaking_news.cfm there was another fallen worker near Stockton, Il. quoting Wireless Estimator, “Jo Daviess County Coroner Bill Laity said that the man who fell from a communications tower in rural Stockton Sunday was Thomas W. Lucas, 49, of Toledo, Ill. According to Laity, Lucas was painting the structure when he fell. Laity did not know if Lucas was self-employed”

Apparently Sunday afternoon, August 10th, this happened. It seems not many people on the news wire picked it up. Just so you know the details are scarce, we just don’t know much at this time but here are some articles that may help.