NATE webinar: A missed opportunity

Discussion in 'Safety - General Safety Issues' started by Michael Landa, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. Michael Landa

    Michael Landa Friend of the Community

    The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) October 24th webinar ?The Critical Aspects of Tower Site Safety: From Top to Bottom and Beginning to End? was a missed opportunity to address real safety issues encountered in the field and to set the tone for those issues going forward. Don Doty chose instead to regurgitate the contents of two previously promulgated checklists available on the NATE website. While the checklists contain useful information, the time could have been better utilized discussing real safety issues that impact climber safety in depth issues such as proper sleep, drinking, drug use and physical conditioning for some climbers.

    I agree drug and alcohol prevention/detection programs are a critical part of a company?s overall safety program, however, drugs and alcohol are only two of the many indicators of workers personal behavior which went largely unaddressed. It was not until near the end of the presentation that the subject of behavior came up; while the 300 pound gorilla as Craig Lekutis refers to drug use is important there are many other behavioral issues impacting a climber?s ability to perform optimally at elevation. Research indicates that 10 percent to 20 percent of the nation?s workers who die in work related accidents test positive for alcohol or other drugs (Occupational Safety & Health Administration (2008).

    The list of key behavioral safety issues confronted in the field includes, but is not limited to, climbers working under the influence, establishing a safe number of climbs per day, water consumption, physical condition, mentally prepared, educated in policy, credible fall protection program, (Ellis, 2001) climber skills identification, levels and objective performance appraisals.

    There is an average of 8.29 fatalities annually (Landa, 2008); therefore focusing on those impaired by drugs and alcohol may impact 1 fatal accident while the remaining 7 fatalities go unaddressed. We do know for a fact that the number of climbers who exhibit risky behavior and die as a result of that behavior account 64.29 percent of all the deaths from 1984 to 2002 (Landa, 2008). Statistically we can save more lives if the behavior of those 64 percent can be modified or better yet that 64 percent should be eliminated from the work force.

    Michael S. Landa

    Ellis, J. N. (2001). Introduction to fall protection. (3rd Ed.) Des Plaines, IL: American Society of Safety Engineers.
    Landa, M. S. (2008). Falls from elevation: Longitudinal study of fatality antecedents. Unpublished.
    Occupational Safety & Health Administration (2008). Workplace Substance Abuse. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from
  2. I hear accounts of fatalities and it?s sad that safety is treated as a burden more then a responsibility. I deal With Radio Frequency Radiation Poisoning and while very rarely will it kill you it easily can cause permanent disabilities such as blindness, sterilization, burns, and migraines although I did see once were a man working on a 200' tower had the tower powered down then someone remotely powered it back up due to poor lockout procedures. The microwave dish at his leg level had caught his clothing on fire and he had to jump he survived but not without permanent disability. That would have been a very avoidable problem if proper training is given AND USED. And not just the climber needs the training but everyone that has access to the site even the engineer a 100 miles away that powers the site back on because the sticky note fell of the switch. safety training saves lifes !!!
  3. Anita Hamilton

    Anita Hamilton Friend of the Community

    Michael brings out some good points about the issues that impact climber safety - many of them not substance abuse-related.

    But I don't think it was a lost opportunity, since that would imply that this was NATE'S only golden opportunity to discuss the problems.

    I am sure that they will be doing other webinars covering those specific issues - or at least I hope so.

    Kind of like saying to the inventor of the wheel ? after she briefly touched upon a breaking device ? that she should refocus her thoughts and talk about a global transport system.

    Michael, I'm not being argumentative, since you appear to be concerned enough to have done a great amount of research on climber issues, but give them the chance to feel their way around in uncharted waters.
  4. Michael Landa

    Michael Landa Friend of the Community

    Any opportunity to discuss safety that is not exercised is a lost opportunity. Joshua is absolutely correct about the RF aspects of the work, not enough attention paid as far as I'm concerned.

    The ability of a foreman to see what elevated workers are doing at 200 feet it is nearly impossible from the ground. The best trained and finest equipped climber working for a company with the most comprehensive safety policy and tightest workplace safety regulations is no safer than the fly-by-night outfit if the training is not applied, equipment is not properly used, safety policies are not followed and the regulations are not adherence to.

    Behavior the root problem which needs to be solved, training certainly has a place in the paradigm as do education and a number of other tools, however, until we can be reasonably assured the elevated worker will comply with the training and education everything else is a waste of time.

    As abstract as it may seem, behavior can be measured predicted and modified. While this all sounds a little cerebral it can be best explained by the writings of Fishbein, & Ajzen, (1975) and expanded and amplified on by dozens of other authors. The theory of reasoned action (TRA), as it is known, is the basis of very accurate marketing tools used today.

    At a minimum we should be able and willing to test employees and prospective employees in order to measure their propensity to comply with safety rules and regulations. Those who won?t test or who fail to meet some predetermined measure will not be hired. The capability to test for safety does not, in any way, relieve companies of developing sound and progressive safety policies and procedures or for complying with OSHA and state regulations.

    The diatribe in the industry continues to focus on control such as licensing (Wilcox, 2007), stronger regulations that will require solid safety programs, establish minimum training standards for climbers and more training (Horn, 2007). Occupational licensing has not been tried in this industry and it hasn?t worked as intended in any other industry (Landa, 2008 a), safety training certification has had no impact on fatalities nor has more stringent regulation (Landa, 2008 b).

    The industry continues to describe itself as the most dangerous and now has the government reciting the same refrain, the only problem is the description is bogus, no foundation in fact, pulled out of some dark place, made-up, fictitious, well you get the point. I have challenged both Mr. Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. and NATE in letters to prove this dubious distinction or stop repeating it. The use of 9,800 as the definitive population of elevated workers is not the number to be using when performing the calculations.

    The facts are all the fatalities that occurred in 2003 were filed under the companies North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, in the table below are all the NAICS codes for all the fatalities from 2003 through 2007. Also listed are the [1] Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes, [2] climber fatalities, [3] falls from elevation listed by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), [4] NAICS population listed by BLS, [5] deaths per 100,000 employees of [2] and deaths per 100,000 employees of [3]. The data clearly shows deaths per 100,000 are no where near the 114.9 figure everyone keeps promoting. For all of 2003 there were 0.624 deaths per 100,000 employees resulting from tower accidents. I have compiled data for every year from 2003 ? 2007 if anyone is interested in reviewing it. The highest rate was 0.87 deaths per 100,000 in 2005.

            2003 Per 100,00
      1 2 3 4 5 6
    NAICS SIC FAT's Falls Population Rate (2) Rate (3)
    238210 1731 3 22 861,700 0.348 2.553
    238990 1799 6 7 299,200 2.005 2.340
    332312 3441 2 0 86,700 2.307 0.000
    333613 3598 1 0 74,000 1.351 0.000
    517110 4813 1 0 761,800 0.131 0.000
    Total   13 29 2,083,400 0.624 1.392

    I have established a blog to discuss elevated work safety and am always interested in what the field has to say so please feel free to read and comment at htttp://

    Michael S. Landa

    Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, altitude, intention research. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.
    Horn, L. (2007, July 19). Training struggles to keep up with tower growth. Lawrence Journal World & News Retrieved November 11, 2008 from
    Landa, M. S. (2008 a). Occupational Licensing of Tower Climbers. Landcraft Industries, Inc. Retrieved November 11, 2008 from
    Landa, M. S. (2008 b). Falls from Elevation: Longitudinal Study of Fatality Antecedents. Landcraft Industries, Inc. Unpublished.
    Wilcox, W. W. (2007, November 1). Licensing climbers might help to stem the continued increase in industry fatalities. Wireless Estimator Retrieved November 11, 2008 from

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