Partnership ID # 363
Covering Evaluation Period (November 8, 2006 – October 31, 2007)
Evaluation Report Completed: March 2008
Advances in telecommunications and an increasing dependence on wireless communications and broadcast services have fueled the construction, service, and maintenance of telecommunication and broadcast towers throughout the country. With this unprecedented growth, stakeholders from the industry and the occupational safety and health community have expressed concerns about work practices and the health and safety of tower workers. NATE, headquartered in Watertown, South Dakota, is a non-profit trade association that represents employers in the tower erection, service, and maintenance industry. The association was founded in March of 1995 and has more than 500 member companies located throughout the United States and abroad. Members range in size from five to 300 employees, with 99 percent having fewer than 200 employees and 85 percent having 15 or fewer employees. Since 2001, NATE and OSHA’s Region V Cleveland Area Office have worked closely together to promote safety and health and best practices in the industry.
On November 8, 2006, NATE and OSHA signed a national OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP) agreement to work together to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employers and employees from the tower erection, service, and maintenance industry. This will be achieved by preventing serious accidents and fatalities through increased safety and health training, implementing best industry practices, enhancing members’ safety and health management systems (SHMS), and staying in-compliance with applicable OSHA standards and regulations.
The OSP will accomplish its goals by focusing on efforts, skills, knowledge, and resources of NATE and OSHA to benefit tower erector industry employers and employees. Another additional benefit expected as a result of the OSP is increased communication and respect between partners and other stakeholders.
- Reduce the percentage of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities of participating telecommunication and broadcast tower erection employers, and their subcontractors, to an aggregate rate that is below the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ average, based on most recently published data.
- Recognize participants that successfully achieve reductions in illnesses, injuries, and fatalities.
- Improve awareness of OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs) on the hazards/issues associated with the tower erection industry.
- Analyze participant data to identify causal factors and corrective actions and share corrective actions.
- Identify best practices for the development and implementation of successful ergonomics programs and guidelines.
- Develop, implement, and share best practices with participants. Establish a website or tool to communicate best practices among participating NATE members.
- Develop a recognition system to recognize participants for reductions in injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the telecommunications and broadcast tower erection industry.
- Increase the number of employees that attend the OSHA 3150 Tower Safety course.
The OSP completed its first annual evaluation in December 2007. During the first year, 85 employers covering over 1,600 employees participated. Findings from the evaluation showed that the OSP developed industry-specific training courses and provided 20,500 hours of training to more than 1,200 employees, supervisors, and managers. All 85 of the participants’ SHMS were implemented and/or improved using OSHA’s 1989 Guidelines as a model. Close to 600 self-inspections were performed resulting in over 230 hazards and/or violations identified and corrected/abated.
During the first year, the OSP collected baseline injury and illness data to be used to measure progress and for purposes of comparative analysis in future evaluations. Collected data showed that the participants’ aggregated Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) was 29 percent below the 2006 BLS national average rate of 5.8 for this respective industry. The OSP’s overall baseline Days Away, Restricted, and Transfer (DART) rate was 5.2, 38 percent above the 2006 BLS national average rate of 3.2. In addition to collecting TCIR and DART averages, the OSP is also collecting the Insurance Experience Modifier Rate (EMR) data from participants. At the time of the evaluation, the OSP’s EMR average was .91 (.09 percent below the 1.0 standard).
Also during the first year, the OSP continued to work towards promoting safe industry practices. NATE issued a letter to major owners, carriers, and general contractors, asking qualified contractors to adopt 100 percent fall protection at all worksites. The OSHA Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) formed a tower workgroup to help gather industry perspective and input on standards development. Additional benefits experienced as a result of the OSP include increased safety and health awareness, improved relationships with various stakeholders, and increased interest from additional companies.
Since the evaluation, NATE and OSHA have developed a Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting safe practices within the industry. Many industry and safety leaders, including OSHA Assistant Secretary Edwin F. Foulke, made appearances in the PSA. Over the next year, the OSP plans to conduct additional safety training and continually improve their data collection efforts.