OSHA Strategic Partnership Program<< Back to Success Stories


Background:

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), headquartered in Watertown, South Dakota, is a non-profit trade association providing a unified voice for tower erection, maintenance, and service companies. NATE's membership consists of over 550 tower companies located throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Canada, Cayman Islands, Romania, Trinidad, Singapore, and Sweden, and its membership continues to grow.

Since 2001, NATE and OSHA's Cleveland Area Office have collaborated on various safety and health initiatives. However, on November 8, 2006, NATE and OSHA formed a national OSHA Strategic Partnership (OSP) with the purpose of working together to educate and promote safety and health in the tower industry. Specific goals of the OSP include: reducing the percentage of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities of OSP participants (and their subcontractors); attaining aggregate injury and illness rates that are below the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) national average for this industry; and improving safety awareness of key industry hazards to help prevent accidents on the worksites.

Success Impact:

Increased Safety Training and Development of Standards Result in More Hazards Being Identified and Corrected on Worksites

Results from the 2008 annual evaluation showed an increase in industry-specific safety training with almost 50,000 hours of training being conducted (more than double the number of hours than during Year 1), with 1,040 employees, managers, and supervisors receiving the OSHA 10-hour course and 448 receiving the OSHA 30-hour course. Also in 2008, NATE developed and released the second edition of its Tower Climber Fall Protection Training Standard which will be delivered in-house and by commercial trainers to both NATE members and non-members, as well as the development of safety materials such as NATE's: Accident Prevention, Safety and Health Program Guide; Hoist Operator's Educational Requirements Guide; Tower Signals and Communication Guide; Roof Top Safety Protocol Manual; Radio Frequency Awareness Guide; site signage materials; and videos on best safety practices (e.g., Personnel Hoisting, Gin Pole Procedures, and Radio Frequency Awareness).

In 2008, 1,340 self-inspections were performed on participants' worksites (over 700 more than in the first year) which resulted in 350 hazards and/or violations being identified and corrected. Corrected violations and/or potential hazards included employees not wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, improper barricading, missing signage and tags, plastic gas cans on the worksite, and the use of improper equipment (e.g., broken ladders).

Reduction of Injury and Illness Rates Days Away, Restricted, and Transferred (DART) Rate, Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR

In 2008, the OSP's TCIR was 3.4 (a 35 percent reduction from Year 1) and its DART rate was 2.6 (a 37 percent reduction). The OSP's two-year average TCIR rate was 4.2 (14 percent below the 2007 BLS national average) and its two-year average DART rate was 3.3. The table below presents the OSP's progress in reducing its participants' injury and illness rates between the first and second year.

Year

DART

TCIR

OSP Year 1 4.1 5.2
OSP Year 2 2.6 3.4
OSP Two-Year Average 3.3 4.2
% Decrease Between Year 1 and Year 2 -37% -35%

Safety and Health Outreach and Promotion

In 2008, NATE developed the groundbreaking "It's Up to You" Public Service Announcement (PSA) which was released on November 11, 2008. Tower companies, regulatory groups, families of tower workers who were victims of accidents on the job, and other key industry stakeholders came together to deliver the message about the importance of safe work practices. Other outreach initiatives included: participating at public speaking events; developing outreach materials (e.g., monthly publication, Tower Times, articles, safety brochures and posters, news email bulletins, and the "It's Up To You" t-shirt which reflects the tower safety PSA); posting online materials (e.g., safety videos, guides, standards, manuals, webinars, checklists, and other archived resources); and disseminating safety updates and notices known as "NATE News" to members via email which are later posted on NATE's website. Specific examples include:

  • In July 2008, NATE disseminated an Industry Safety Alert to remind members to utilize fall arrest equipment and follow safety requirements and procedures while rappelling and descending from a tower following tower worker fatalities that involved rappelling;

  • In October 2008, NATE disseminated two of OSHA's announcements, "Preventing Fatal Falls in Construction" and "Cranes and Derricks Standard" which addressed the erection, dismantling, and operation of tower cranes.

Benefits of Participating in the NATE National OSP Testimonial

The OSP continues to make progress in promoting safety and health in the tower industry by utilizing the efforts, skills, knowledge, and resources of its partners. The OSP has become a forum for OSHA and NATE to discuss issues and concerns with an emphasis on improving overall safety within the tower industry. OSP participants and NATE members are provided the opportunity to meet and talk with OSHA officials during the national conference and during the offered training sessions, as well through technical assistance efforts which helps to alleviate preconceived fears of the agency and leverage resources.

Increasing safety and health awareness is also accomplished by requiring the participants to requisite levels of training and the implementation of an effective safety and health management system. OSP participants demonstrate their willingness to hold themselves to higher standards regarding worksite safety by identifying and resolving potential hazards through the required site safety audits. Employees of the OSP participants understand that by partnering with NATE and OSHA, their employers are taking steps to ensure that tower climbers go home safely at the end of the day.

"The NATE/OSHA Partnership is composed of companies who are
dedicated to a higher-level of safety. Given these results, it seems
clear that it is in the best interest of tower owner and operator
companies to hire NATE/OSHA Partners. We strongly encourage
more NATE member companies to join the Partnership, increasing
the pool of qualified contractors and protecting the lives of crews."

-- Patrick Howey, NATE Executive Director

Partnership Objectives:

Key objectives of the OSP are to: 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; and increase the number of employees that attend the OSHA 3150 Tower Safety course.

Origin: National Office, Washington, D.C.

Partners: National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE)

Partnership Signed: November 8, 2006

Industry Code Description (NAICS Code): Construction (23713)

Employees: 4,000+

Employers: 97

Source/Date: Danielle Gibbs, NATE National OSP Coordinator, OSHA National Office/August 2009