Safety is the issue NOT Licensing

Discussion in 'Safety - General Safety Issues' started by Michael Landa, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. Michael Landa

    Michael Landa Friend of the Community

    Wireless Estimator published an article by Winton W. Wilcox, Jr. on November 1, 2007 entitled ?Licensing climbers might help to stem the continued increase in industry fatalities.? Following publication there was an initial flurry of comments in the Forum section of the website but it quickly died out.

    There were a couple of key points that caught my attention. First, Wilcox states ?Unfortunately, certification is verification of an accomplishment, not conduct.? Conduct is probably an inappropriate choice of words, none the less nothing could be further from the truth! I attended ComTrain?s two day course in Atlanta last June and it is all about behavior; each student is required to be rescued by another student and to perform a rescue. You don?t climb and rescue, you don?t get certified; that is behavior and it can be objectively measured. The written test is a quantitative cognitive assessment of what you learned, however, a major portion related to describing behavioral aspects of climbing and rescue techniques. It is my considered opinion that certification can and should be withdrawn upon evidence the climber no longer demonstrates the appropriate conduct or safe behavior they demonstrated to obtain certification initially. Documentation of safety violations should be in sufficient detail as the employer and certifying authority agree on and in such a manner as to protect the employee?s right to redress prior to revocation.

    Second, the bulk of Mr. Wilcox?s assertions that licensing would increase the quality of climber and workmanship and that safety in the tower industry would improve have all been disproved in countless peer reviewed studies published before Mr. Wilcox wrote his article. From a practical perspective the administrative process of "pull their license" is far from guaranteed and a lengthy process. Third, the assertion that licensing could possibly result in lower insurance premiums has absolutely no basis in fact. While the article may accurately reflect Mr. Wilcox?s opinion, the only facts in the article is the accident information.

    Fourth, licensing does nothing but increase the costs associated with hiring and employing climbers. This is a result of the number of climbers available, and the costs of licensing. Clearly not all climbers currently working will qualify for licensing or will want to qualify for licensing. The other issue is occupational licensing is the province of a State under ?police powers? the resulting patchwork of licensing would result in some states issuing tight regulation of climbers and others will not require licensing. The end result of different licensing requirements in fifty states will likely include fifty different insurance requirements, fifty different bureaucratic structures and endless variations of how to conduct business in the various jurisdictions. The list of unexpected problems related to licensing will not be fully realized until such time as it actually occurs.

    If the actual goal of all this is reduced fatalities, then our effort would be better spent seeking viable solutions with options currently available. My research indicates 64.29 percent of all fatalities from 1984 through 2002 could be traced directly to risky behavior. Risky behavior was defined as climber?s not utilizing available safety equipment, not using approved anchor points, riding load lines, riding synthetic rope and being hoisted on non-man rated winches such as capstans. The regression correlation coefficient was 84.65 percent and the r2 = 0.7166 which means that risky behavior is the primary antecedent of fatalities, accounting for 71.66% of the variability in data for this statistical model.

    We should be focusing on methods of modifying climber risky behavior rather than more training (though training does have a place in the paradigm), licensing and increased regulation or oversight.

    If the ?industry? is serious about reducing accidents then poorly thought out remarks for publication and furthering ones own agenda over safety is going to have to cease.

    Michael S. Landa

    See Tower Climber Licensing Study at:
  2. Not only do you need to watch for normal hazards but you also have to know about the unseen hazards that are on every tower site. Protect yourself through knowledge and knowing your rights as a tower worker. Don't let yourself be put at more risk then you have to and be safe.

    OSHA regulation 1910.268C is the regulation that states that all persons exposed to RF Energy are required to have RF Safety Training "The training certification records required in 29 CFR 1910.268(c) are necessary to assure compliance with the requirement for telecommunications. They are intended to assure that employees have been trained in the various precautions and safe practices in work performed at telecommunications centers and at telecommunications field installations which are located outdoors or in building spaces used for such field installations."
  3. Jerome Levy

    Jerome Levy Industry Observer

    Mr. Landa,
    I?ve read your white paper and must say that it was an interesting and informative study of tower climber fatalities. Most of the time we?re treated to a shallow knee jerk reaction or a biased article. Your research should be commended.
    As you point out, most of the time it is climber error. They?re given the tools and training, but they just don?t use them.
  4. Michael Landa

    Michael Landa Friend of the Community

    I agree with your assessment about shallow knee jerk reaction. Part of the problem rests with all the talking heads out there, some ?expert? or another gets a phone call from a reporter and feels obligated to say something to establish their credentials, even if what they say has no basis in fact. Real answers for tough problems are seldom simple; more training, more regulation, more, more, more just does not cut it unless you can justify it with analytical research. The more these fallacies are repeated the more they take on the color of the truth and this is where part of the trouble begins as I noted in my comments on Mr. Wilcox?s letter.

    I have submitted the research my original letter was based on for publication so until such time as I am informed of their decision I am unable to distribute it. If the research is not published I will get with Craig to see if he is willing to post it on I am confident you will enjoy reading it.

    Think Safety,

    Michael S. Landa
    Landcraft Industries, Inc.

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