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NATE Announces 2013-2014 STAR Initiative Participants

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This week at the PCIA’s 2013 Wireless Infrastructure Show in Hollywood, Florida the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) announced the member companies who have been approved to participate in the NATE STAR Initiative Program for the 2013-2014 year. The NATE STAR Initiative was designed to help companies operate safely while recognizing tower erectors who voluntarily adhere to higher standards. The NATE STAR Initiative emphasizes Safety, Training, Accountability and Reliability by asking participants to commit to requisite levels of training, site safety audits and the implementation of safety programs while adhering to industry best practices.
“NATE Start Initiative Participants are among a growing community of NATE members who demonstrate a commitment to the highest level of tower safety,” said Senior Staff Associate Shelly Trego. “Thanks to the leadership and attention to detail by the participants, the implementation of the practices defined by the STAR Initiative will continue to increase the level of safety and vigilance in the industry.”
New this year, the participants will receive rate discounts on designated training courses offered on the soon to be unveiled NATE Exchange. The NATE Exchange will be a website allowing companies to connect with the most up-to-date training courses that are offered throughout the industry.
To view a complete list of the 2013-2013 STAR Initiative Participants, please click here. NATE believes in “Safety from the ground up” and works to provide a unified voice for tower erection, maintenance and service companies.
“Safety never ends,” Chairwoman of NATE, Pat Cipov explained at the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum event earlier this week. “The solution is certain: we are all responsible for safety and we need to make sure each employee goes home at the end of the day.

October 10, 2013 |

FCC Proposes Action to Improve Wireless Reliability During Disasters

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Last week, the Federal Communications Commission released a report proposing an action to improve the wireless network reliability during disasters. They plan to do this by, “requiring wireless service providers to publicly disclose the percentage of cell sites within their networks that are operational during and immediately after disasters,” the FCC explains.
The FCC does understand that some wireless service interruptions may be unavoidable during emergencies but the goal is to minimize the number of interruptions. “For example, Superstorm Sandy disabled approximately 25 percent of cell sites in the affected region, with more than 50 percent of cell sites disabled in the hardest-hit counties, yet not all wireless networks were equally impaired,” the report noted. It was also mentioned that the practices that these wireless service providers use could play a role in the variation of the reliability of the structure during natural disasters.

“The FCC’s proposal would require wireless service providers to submit to the FCC, for public disclosure on a daily basis during and immediately after disasters, the percentage of operational cell sites for each county within a designated disaster area. Information yielding these percentages is already included in voluntary reports that wireless service providers submit to the FCC daily during disasters, albeit on a presumptively confidential basis and as part of a larger set of data,” the report explained.
September 30, 2013 |

Falling Isn’t The Only Risk For Cell Tower Workers

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While falling is a huge risk to the tower technicians that scale 100 to 300-foot towers, heat illness is another risk that these workers face. OSHA has launched their nationwide Heat Illness Prevention Campaign that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of working in hot weather. The campaign began in 2011 and has reached over 7 million people and distributed close to have a million fact sheets, posters, quick cards, and training guides.
OSHA explains that there are two types of heat illness: heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The symptoms for heat exhaustion are: dizziness, headache, sweaty skin, weakness, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fast heartbeat. While the symptoms for heat stroke are: red, hot, dry skin, high temperature, confusion, convulsions, and fainting.
Water, rest, and shade can help workers stay safe and healthy. Make sure to drink water every 15 minutes even if you aren’t thirsty. Watch out for each other, rest in the shade, and wear hats as well as light colored clothing. According to NATE, “Any worker exposed to hot and humid conditions is at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions.”

Take a look at the Heat Fatalities map below provided by OSHA:

September 4, 2013 |

Cell Tower Tech Rescued After Antenna Accident

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On Friday, August 30th, a 23-year old tower technician was rescued from a cell tower by the Tulsa, Oklahoma Fire Department after suffering from a head injury due to a fallen antenna. Justin Mayfield was hit in the head with more than 200 pounds of force. If he and his crew hadn’t taken the proper safety precautions, he may not have lived to tell his story. Luckily Mayfield was wearing his helmet, which saved him from a lot of potential harm.
The team was just completing routine maintenance when the antenna fell. His co-worker Ryan Kifer was able to assist Mayfield after the accident occurred until firefighters could rescue them both. Both of the men were properly harnessed to the 100-foot tower when the antenna fell. Kifer immediately stabilized Mayfield’s’ neck and waited for the firefighters to arrive. Mayfield only suffered a mild concussion and will be climbing again in no time.
While Mayfield was lucky, some crews aren’t so diligent when it comes to following the safety precautions laid out for them. In an episode of Frontline cell tower technicians discussed the safety measures that are often skipped because of a time crunch. Martin Smith of Frontline explained that, “ Veteran climbers say that time pressure often leads to something called ‘free climbing.’”
Free climbing is when a person who is climbing a tower isn’t connected to a fall arrest system. This may seem like one of the crazier ideas anyone has ever had, but with the swift expansion of cellular networks by the major carriers workers felt pressured to complete their tasks in a timely manner. Tower technician, Ray Hull, explained on Frontline how he and a coworker had to complete a cell site in Nebraska but the equipment they needed was in Texas—20 hours away. Although they tried to get an extension for their deadline, it was denied because Nextel needed the tower to be completed. Hull and his coworker drove to Texas and back to immediately begin working on the tower.
Hull felt pressured and immediately ascended the tower to begin work, despite his lack of sleep and without the proper safety equipment. Hull ended up falling 240 feet and only lived because his safety harness broke the fall, but he suffered severe injuries and is now permanently disabled. 

Even if a deadline is extremely important, it’s no more important than following safety procedures to prevent accidents from occurring. This is why the National Association of Tower Erectors has worked to educate the industry leaders on proper safety regarding tower climbing. NATE also pursues safety through its member involvement in the development of Industry Standards and NATE Standards.

September 3, 2013 |

NATE Urges You To Use The Qualified Contractors Evaluation Checklist

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With every major carrier rushing to complete their 4G LTE networks around the country, the National Association of Tower Erectors recommends that you take a look at their Qualified Contractors Evaluation Checklist. AT&T has vowed to complete their 4G LTE network by the summer of 2014, Verizon’s already covers over 95% of the U.S. population and Sprint is pushing forward, trying to keep up as best they can.
In order to build these networks, these companies need to update their equipment on existing towers or construct new towers altogether to reach as many people as possible. With the increase in tower construction, there is an increase in accidents. NATE has taken notice of this issue and worked with the National Telecommunications Safety Panel to put together a checklist so companies take notice of the largest safety issue facing the industry—using unqualified contractors.

This checklist was designed to help carriers evaluate a contractor’s dedication to safety to eliminate potential accidents from occurring. Take a look at the full checklist by clicking here.  NATE is a non-profit trade association providing a unified voice for tower erection, maintenance and service companies.

August 27, 2013 |

Sanford, Florida Cell Tower No Longer A Risk

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After the fire that occurred on a Sanford, Florida cell tower there was concern that the 125-foot tower might collapse. Technicians were welding on the communications tower when it caught fire, causing them to abandon the tower. Residents in the surrounding area along with local businesses were evacuated and nearby roads were close in Seminole County in case the burning tower fell.

The tower is being removed in sections, which will cause cell networks to be disrupted in the surrounding area. However, it hasn’t been determined which telecommunications carriers had equipment on the Sanford tower so it’s unclear who will be affected by spotty cell phone coverage. 

August 23, 2013 |

Cell Tower Catches Fire In Sanford, FL

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Today in Seminole County, Florida a cell phone tower located near Historic Goldsboro Boulevard caught fire. The tower crew was doing welding work when the fire started. There were four employees working on the tower while one was working off-site. The five employees were uninjured; although, one worker was treated on the scene for chest pains.
WFTV reported that, “‘It’s going to be minimum cellphone service in the area. Cellphone service might be spotty in the area, depending on who your carrier is,’ Robles said.”

Firefighters are concerned that the cell tower could collapse. According to Seminole County officials, HWY 17-92 is temporarily closed from 3rd Street to 20th Street. (Source: WFTV)


August 21, 2013 |

Deadline For NATE STAR Initiative Is August 31st

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With 10 tower technician accidents in 2013 alone, safety has become a big topic among the wireless tower industry and the National Association of TowerErectors is working hard to encourage members of the tower industry to take safety seriously.
The NATE STAR Initiative was designed to help companies operate safely while recognizing tower erectors who voluntarily adhere to higher standards. The NATE STAR Initiative emphasizes Safety, Training, Accountability and Reliability by asking participants to commit to requisite levels of training, site safety audits and the implementation of safety programs while adhering to industry best practices. (Source: NATE).
This initiative is open to all NATE members who employ tower climbers and NATE encourages all eligible members to take part in this program to show their dedication to tower climber safety. NATE lists a few of the benefits of this program:
  •     The NATE STAR Initiative provides a tested and proven method for NATE members to have a direct impact on the safety of tower technicians.
  •     On a larger scale, the STAR Initiative is NATE’s next step toward establishing an industry wide culture of safety. The results of this program will help further define what should be expected of qualified tower erectors.

After completing this program you will receive a certificate signed by the NATE Chairman and Executive Director. Enrollment is open from July 1st to August 31st each year and this is the only time of the year when new participants are accepted. To learn more about the NATE STAR Initiative and learn about the enrollment process, please click here. This is an excellent opportunity to have an impact on safety in the tower industry and demonstrate that you embrace the highest standards to safeguard your employees.  



August 19, 2013 |

Take Safety Precautions To Prevent Accidents on Towers

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In 2013 alone, there have been 10 fatalities in the wireless tower industry. Many of these accidents have occurred because tower techs have fallen off the wireless towers. The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) recognizes that these accidents are preventable and have shared their “Tower Site Hazard Recognition Guide.”
In this guide, NATE has provided information to help employees of tower owners, carriers, broadcasters, general contractors, and tower erectors recognize the hazards of tower sites. Being aware of potential dangers will help reduce the number of accidents in the tower industry.
In NATE’s comprehensive guide, they discuss the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) “10 Most Frequently Cited Standards in Fiscal Year 2012.” The first one was Fall Protection (29 CFR 1926.501). There are plenty of precautions to take to prevent workers from falling. Take a look at the Hazard Recognition Guide for a detailed look at all the preventative measures workers should take. One of the major safety measures workers should take is using proper equipment and wearing the correct apparel.
“Appropriate footwear is essential for workers on tower sites when the potential exists for hazards caused by falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole, or the possibility of electrical hazards. Proper footwear on tower sites also protects employee’s feet from physical/skeletal injuries resulting from climbing and working on towers and related structures,” NATE’s safety guide explains.
NATE is a non-profit trade organization dedicated to facilitating safety, education and standards for the tower erection, service and maintenance industry. In that regard, NATE compiles safety resources available to members to assist them in the development of their safety and health programs. To take a look at the Tower Site Hazard Recognition Guide, please click here.

August 16, 2013 |

National Association of Tower Erectors Urges Tower Techs To Be Safe

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This morning, the National Association of Tower Erectors shared a press release urging tower technicians to take safety precautions in light of the recent tower accidents. NATE’s Safety Bulletin reads as follows:
“Dear NATE Members:
In 2013, the tower erection, service and maintenance industry has experienced the tragic loss of tower technicians in accidents.  NATE members extend our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family, friends and co-workers impacted by these tragedies.
NATE reminds our member companies and their employees to remain vigilant and dedicated to safe operating practices at all times.  We ask all members to take the time to talk to your crews and construction managers about safety.  Please remind your tower technicians of the importance of adhering to the training and education they have received.  Emphasize that 100% tie-off is mandatory.  Above all else, take this opportunity to let them know that their decisions have consequences and; their lives depend on the choices they make.  
Together, NATE members will continue to make a difference.  Thank you for your continued dedication to safety.”

There have been 10 fatalities this year alone due to tower accidents. The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) is a non-profit trade association providing a unified voice for tower erection, service and maintenance companies.


August 14, 2013 |
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