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Prior to the late 1980s, the tower communication erection, maintenance, and
service industry was considered a specialized part of the construction industry.
However, over the past 20 years advances in telecommunication and the public’s
increasing demand for wireless communication and broadcast services have raised
the profile of this sector of the construction industry. As a result, the need
for tower workers to complete jobs more quickly and efficiently than ever before
has grown dramatically. Currently, over 75,000 communication towers are erected,
serviced, and/or maintained in the United States (U.S.) each year. Tower workers
spend most of the year on the road traveling across the country to perform work
and typically climb between 100 to 2,000 feet on towers in all seasonal weather
conditions. Compared to other industries, the tower industry is relatively small
and consists of fewer than 10,000 workers at any time; therefore, the death of
one tower worker results in an industry fatality rate that is much greater than
the average rate for construction occupations in the United States.
NATE represents over 75 percent of the tower industry. The OSP between NATE and
OSHA impacted the safety and health of tower workers by promoting safety and
health management systems and best practices in the tower industry. The OSP
ensured that all approved participants promoted safe work practices for their
workers, contractors, and subcontractors by developing, implementing, and/or
improving effective safety and health management systems; requiring 100 percent
fall protection at six feet; requiring all OSP participants to participate in
requisite levels of training; and utilizing the assistance, support, and
guidance provided by the OSP partners.
- 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.
During the final year of the OSP (2009):
Over the course of the OSP (between 2006 and 2009):
- Close to 4,000 workers representing almost half of the
industry were covered (four times more than the number covered during 2006)
- The number of tower climber fatalities decreased 62 percent to five from
2008, with 0 being OSP participants
- The OSP participants’ Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) rate was
1.3 – a 68 percent decrease from the rate in 2006, a 50 percent reduction from
2008, and 46 percent below the 2008 BLS national average for the industry of
- The OSP participants’ Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) was 4.2
Learn more about the
successes of the OSP.
Tower workers’ safety and health improved by reducing the number of injuries
and illnesses that occurred each year
Each year the OSP participants attained lower injury and illness rates than
the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) national average for this industry
Best industry practices were promoted which addressed hazards not currently
covered by OSHA standards
Safety and health outreach and awareness within the industry increased