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OSHA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a booklet to help reduce injuries and fatalities among communication tower climbers and ground crew employees. The booklet compiles information and best practices from industry stakeholders and worker safety advocates. It is tailored to tower climbers and ground crew employees, carriers and tower owners, turfing vendors, and tower construction and maintenance contractors.
The agencies say the industry’s business structure presents challenges to employee safety. While carriers have the ability and incentive to ensure safe practices, “the relationship between carriers and tower employees is more complicated.” For example, the booklet says:
- Towers are often owned by separate corporations and are built by contractors.
- Carriers often contract with “turfing vendors” to install and maintain tower equipment.
- In turn, turfing vendors may hire other contractors to perform the work.
- These contractors may subcontract tower work to still smaller employers.
As a result, carriers and tower owners may not know who is performing work for them or when work is being performed. “Thus, responsibility for employee safety is fractured into many layers,” the booklet says. “Instead of a single company having control and responsibility for employee safety and tower integrity, employer responsibilities can be spread over numerous small employers.”
ASSP published the ANSI/ASSP A10.48-2016 standard, which addresses safety practices related to the construction, demolition, modification and maintenance of communication structures.