On November 8, 2006, NATE and OSHA formed a three-year national OSP to educate and promote safety and health in the communication tower industry. The OSP’s goals were to reduce tower climbers’ fatalities and injuries; improve outreach and awareness of the key hazards associated with the tower industry; and recognize participants who were approved to participate in the OSP. This national partnership between the tower industry and OSHA contributed to saving the lives of tower workers by creating the opportunity to impact workers that are often difficult to reach due to the nature of their work (e.g., mobile workers, short-term jobs). The OSP impacted over 50 percent of the industry using limited OSHA resources, as well as promoted best practices which addressed hazards not covered by OSHA’s standards.
The OSP completed three annual evaluations between 2006 and 2009 which covered the reporting period. During the third year of the OSP, close to 4,000 workers representing almost half of the industry were covered which was four times more than the number covered during the first year. During the three years, OSP participants continued to hold their companies to higher safety standards by conducting the OSP required site safety audits outlined in the agreement, as well as other OSP requirements such as enforcing 100 percent fall protection at six feet and ensuring the presence of a competent person on the worksite at all times. An increased level of safety and health awareness in the industry was accomplished by requiring participants to participate in requisite levels of training, as well as the development and implementation of an effective safety and health management system. The OSP expired on November 8, 2009. OSHA and NATE were unable to agree to the terms of a new agreement.
2009 Annual Evaluation Highlights:
In 2009, the OSP participants’ Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) rate was 1.3 – a 68 percent decrease from the initial baseline rate in 2006, a 50 percent reduction from the previous year, and 46 percent below the 2008 BLS national average for the industry of 2.4. The OSP participants’ Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) was 4.2 which was a 19 percent reduction from the initial 2006 baseline of 5.2. During 2008, the tower industry experienced 13 fatalities with three occurring at OSP participant worksites; however; in 2009, the number of fatalities in the industry decreased 62 percent to five, with 0 occurring at OSP participant worksites.
Through the OSP, the participants also developed tower-specific safety training courses and offered thousands of training hours to workers, managers, and supervisors. In 2009, over 1,600 self-inspections were performed by participants resulting in 258 hazards and/or violations being identified and corrected/abated. NATE contributed to the development of tower industry safety standards in the State Plan state of Washington, and provided input to OSHA during the development of the federal directives CPL 2-1.29 and CPL 2-1.36 which outline the prerequisite practices for personnel hoisting. The OSP participants promoted safety and health during many outreach activities such as participating in public speaking events, developing marketing materials, posting information online, and conducting webinars.