Tower workgroup recommendations accepted by ACCSH

The federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health’s (ACCSH) tower task force group headed by Kevin Beauregard, assigned to develop tower-specific advice, has provided health and safety recommendations to OSHA. Beauregard has been directly involved with the North Carolina Communication Tower Standard as Assistant Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the North Carolina Department of Labor.


The National Association of Tower Erectors provided considerable guidance to Beauregard’s group and ACCSH approved a set of proposed construction standards this past October that address the tower construction industry. The safety practices recommended by the workgroup are primarily the practices developed over the last decade by NATE members. NATE is optimistic that OSHA will initiate some rules promulgation and believes that OSHA should accept the premise that communications towers should have their own set of standards.

Beauregard presented his findings and recommendations to the ACCSH committee during a previous conference held February 12, 2004 in Illinois. ACCSH is chaired by Robert Krul of the Roofers International Union. Attending the presentation were Assistant Secretary of Labor John Henshaw and Cleveland area OSHA director Rob Medlock. Other committee members and interested parties attending are listed following the transcript of the presentation.

A common thread throughout the Beauregard’s overview was the need to visit more tower construction sites, either with outreach or compliance activities. Medlock believe that the industry would be better served if there was a process in place to have building department officials notify OSHA when a tower is going to be constructed so that OSHA inspectors would be able to visit the site.

That's excellent,” Medlock said, “there's just nothing in the rulemaking process right now that allows us to do that.”  

The report also concurred that tower erection accident fatality information was still difficult to measure based upon the various reporting procedures and the total number of employees in the industry erecting and maintaining towers.

The report also concurred that tower erection accident fatality information was still difficult to measure based upon the various reporting procedures and the total number of employees in the industry erecting and maintaining towers.

TOWER WORKGROUP REPORT:

MR. BEAUREGARD:   I guess I'll start off, and some of this may be repeated, so I'll just skim through it.  But for the new members particularly, probably about, I want to say six years ago, I came to this group. 

We had experienced some fatalities in North Carolina, and there had been some other ones across the country.  Really, we saw a boom in the tower erection industry, which was what was proliferating this problem.

We made some recommendations at that time that OSHA look at the issue of tower erection and possibly working on some initiatives.  OSHA has worked on some initiatives in tower erection.  They formed a task force.

They have been working with the National Association of Tower Erectors on some activities.  They have some 10-hour training coming up at the end of this month with the National Association of Tower Erectors in conjunction with the conference.

But once we took a look at some of the data regarding the problem in the tower erection industry, what we saw was, whereas most of the private sector experiences 5 deaths in 100,000 employees, the tower erection industry was experiencing significantly more.

Depending on what data you went by, I think NIOSH did a study and I think it ranged anywhere from 60 deaths per 100,000 employees to over 460 deaths per 100,000.

Part of the problems with gathering that information is, there is no SIC code for tower erection or, now, NACS code for tower erection.  There's a number of different trades that actually work on towers.  There are the ones that erect it, but then there's also electrical workers, there's painters, there's a number of different issues associated with it.

So, given that, we did form a workgroup for tower erection.  Last year, we tasked ourselves with coming up with some recommendations to provide to this full workgroup, and then hopefully to forward those recommendations over to OSHA on some outreach activities, some potential targeting activities for both education and training and outreach activities, and possibly compliance activities.

We also looked at the possibility of making a recommendation to promulgate a standard or put a standard on the regulatory agenda.  However, we did work on a structured outline of the standard for our workgroup. 

We did not go into great detail because we thought it was probably better to focus our resources on getting to the issues at hand associated with tower erection, what is killing people, what is injuring people, and making sure, if OSHA does add that to the regulatory agenda at some time in the future, that they address those important issues within that standard.

I'm going to wait for just a moment so I can run through those recommendations.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Sure.  And for the public's benefit, these are the communication towers, cell phone towers, satellite towers that was brought to the attention, and actually came to the Building Trades Safety and Health Committee once upon a time by two former tower erectors who were really concerned about safety.

The more this committee looked into the numbers of fatalities and not only the lack of fall protection, but the absolute jury-rigged fall protection that some people were using, and the horrible fatality cases that we were hearing from places, where fathers and sons were falling hundreds of feet, things that were rigged up with basically bo'suns chairs and little ground winches operating out of the backs of pick-up trucks. 

There was absolutely no control.  I mean, OSHA had their hands tied.  These things go up, I don't know, Kevin, in a matter of days, really.  The erection of the towers, they come and they go.

To the credit of the National Association of Tower Erectors, I think they've jumped in on this and they recognize that a problem exists.  Before they get any kind of strict looking at by OSHA, as they deserve to do, that they're willing to work not only with this committee, but with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to try and do something to standardize safety, and especially fall protection on these particular types of towers. 

Kevin, as he has said, has been working on this.  He volunteered.  They certainly had the problem, as every state did.  But Kevin volunteered to head this workgroup and he's really been working hard at it.  He's gotten a lot of people involved in it.  I'd be interested to hear his report.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  While we're waiting for that to queue up, in your handouts there is some information that was provided by NATE's primary insurer.  NATE is the National Association of Tower Erectors.  They have a membership, it's my understanding, that ranges between 80 and 120 employers in the tower erection industry.  Most of their members, if not all of the members, are actual erectors.

They have a primary insurer, which is Arthur J. Gallagher.  Everybody calls them the NATE insurer.  But they are part of the workgroup.  One of the reasons they were included in the workgroup, is they had some very valuable information, I think, that provide some insight on not only the fatalities that were occurring in the tower erection industry, but also the injuries and illnesses.

There are a significant number of injuries and illnesses that are occurring that don't get the headlines, that you don't see when we see the fatalities.

One of the advantages of being able to get some of that information--minus, of course, the employer name and the employee name; we weren't really interested in that--was that because there's not a single entity or SIC code, it's hard to get statistical information on exactly where the issues are.

In your handouts, I included several different items from the numerous statistical pieces of information they provided.  One of the things I think that I wanted to bring this up for, was that there's a chart on there entitled, "2000-2003 NATE Losses."

What their losses are, their losses are pay-outs.  But it gives a break-down of the types of injuries and illnesses that they're paying out on.  And if you look at that list, three out of the top four are associated with falls. 

I think anybody associated with work on towers would not find that surprising at all because that's what we know severely injures people.  That's what we know is leading, ultimately, to the deaths of a lot of people.  If you look at the percentage there, certainly the majority of the pay-outs had to do with injuries that were associated with falls.

There are other things that are associated with the towers.  You'll see on that list there are some burns.  Well, in towers, they can come from a couple different sources.  You have welding, you have RF radiation on those towers, you have electrical risk on those towers.   

So, there are other things besides falls that the erectors are being associated with.  But naturally, when you think of a tower that is over 200 feet, the first thing that's going to come to your mind is, there is a significant fall hazard there.

I think the insurance day is certainly also showing that the majority of the injuries are related to falls.  There is another chart in your handouts that talks about the tenure with the company at the time of the loss. 

The interesting statistic here, I think, is if you look over this three-year period, approximately -- I'm trying to add up real quick.  Over 60 percent, 63 percent of the losses, which are injuries and deaths, are from people that are with the employer for less than a year. 

So, I think it is a significant statistic that just jumps right out there, that there's a lot of people getting into tower erection that don't know what they're doing, and the statistics are bearing that out.  I think that also goes back to the boom in the industry, whereas, probably 10 years ago, you probably didn't have that many folks in the industry. 

With the proliferation of cell phones, everybody has a cell phone now.  Everybody has a pager.  You've got these PDAs, these Blackberries, HD-TVs coming on-line, and all of those things require tower communications, and all of them require a network.

Everybody wants their cell phone to work in every part of the country that they go to.  The only way that's going to happen is you put a cell tower up there so you can get reception.  So, what you're seeing is more and more.

I'll go ahead and start in with my report.  We'll be able to skip through some of this.  We were expecting to do this tomorrow.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  The Chairman exercised his privilege of rearranging the agenda.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  I totally concur with that decision.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  This is some of the recap I've put together primary for those members that weren't on the board, on ACCSH, at the time we did this.  But there are over 300,000 telecommunication towers in existence. 

Many of those are registered with the FAA.  I handed out in the handout some information on the FAA, and there's actually a regulation process for towers that are over 200 feet. 

So, it is a good source of information.  You can go there and you can find out how many towers -- I think it's on that site, if you're interested in finding out where all the towers were in North Carolina, for instance, you can go on there and it will show you.  There's a schematic of that.

But over 100,000 of them are over 200 feet, so you know certainly that there is a significant number of towers out there that do pose a potential fall risk if you're not working on them with proper protection.

NIOSH did a study, and I think I handed it out to this group a few years back.  It's also available on their Web site.  At that time, they were saying that there are about 1,000 new towers going up a year.

Well, there's a lot more than 1,000 new towers going up now.  There was a lull in the tower industry a couple of years ago when the economy sank.  We're seeing a big pick-up of the towers again.  Again, we're seeing that more people are involved in that industry.  We do know that there are thousands of new towers going up. 

As was pointed out earlier, one of the issues with these towers is they go up fairly quickly.  You can get up on-site, and once you start doing the actual erection process you can have these up, depending on size, in a few days.  The larger towers, of course, take a longer time to put up.

There are three main types of towers: monopole, self-supporting, and guy.  I apologize for not having any pretty pictures of these in the presentation.  Those that are in the industry are well aware of the three different types. 

Each type poses their own issues or problems.  The monopole is certainly the toughest one to tie off to because there's not a lot of tie-off points on there, whereas, you have lattice work on the other types of towers to tie off on.

There are probably about 7,000 to 10,000 employees in the industry.  There's not a real good -- at least I'm not aware of a real good figure on the employees.  One of the reasons, again, is because of the different trades that are in here.  It is hard to pinpoint how many are in that business. 

There are estimates that are a lot higher than that, there are some estimates that are a lot lower than that.  From the folks that I've talked to, I think that's probably a pretty good range of where they are right now.

The NIOSH study that I referenced before had 118 deaths from 1992 to 1998.  Although that may not seem like a lot of deaths when you look at how many injuries and deaths we had nationwide on an annual basis, when you look at the very small slice of the pie that the tower industry has, it is a very significant slice of the number of fatalities that are occurring.

Like I had indicated before, the fatality rate ranges, from the best I can understand it, to about 30 times to what the rest of all the other private sector rates are.  So, it is still significantly higher.  That's why we believe it is an issue.

The National Association of Tower Erectors was established in 1995.  All of a sudden, you saw a big increase in towers, and the groups that were putting them together saw a need to form that.

OSHA formed--and I think I have this date right, but if someone with OSHA here has a different date let me know--the Tower Task Force around 1997, a CPL dealing with fall protection on towers, and also riding the line. 

For those of you that are not familiar, those towers are pretty high, so a lot of the tower erectors wanted to ride the hoist line up to get up to the location.  OSHA had some serious trepidations about that, and I concur with them. 

It's not something that we routinely want to see going on.  But they did put together a CPL that said, if you follow all these safety precautions and conditions, we will allow that practice on towers.

Bruce?

MR. SWANSON:  Kevin, that 1992 to 1998 figure is a little old.  Do you, or Rob, or anyone else have an update for the committee on 1998 to 2004?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  I do not.  I don't know if Rob does.  I do know there's a lot of people working on it.

MR. MEDLOCK:   We had 16 last year -- very conservative -- between then we had somewhere -- so 16 is not the lowest.  Twelve is on here, but 16 is last year.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  And one of the difficulties is that we know about the ones we hear about.  We don't always hear about all these fatalities.  OSHA doesn't always hear about them.  The state programs don't always hear about them. 

Sometimes they're reported differently so you don't know it's really a tower fatality.  It comes in as a painter who was killed, or something like that.  Without having one way to track that, it's difficult to measure the numbers. 

We do know it's still a significant issue.  We know, from dealing with associations like NATE and others that are in industry that there are still fatalities occurring and a significant number of injuries occurring.  But I wish I had some better data to give you on that.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  What's a CPL, Kevin?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  A CPL is a compliance directive.  OSHA issues compliance directives for the compliance staff on how they're going to enforce certain standards.  I probably will let OSHA speak on their CPL 2-1.86, if they want to speak on it.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Yes.  I'm doing that for the transcriber's benefit.  I've been able to define most of them, but that one got by me.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Thank you.  I'm pretty bad with acronyms.

Region 5 and NATE did form a partnership.  I had an opportunity, and have had an opportunity, to work with some of the people out of Region 5.  From the sound of it, the partnership has been very successful.  I think that you asked about the fatalities nationwide.

I think the fatalities in Region 5 have seen a significant decrease since the inception of that partnership.  If I could, I'll ask Rob real quickly to give the results on that.  I hate to put him on the spot.

MR. MEDLOCK:  That's okay.  Thank you.  I'm Rob Medlock and I'm the area director of the Cleveland OSHA office.  I've kind of been responsible for the partnership and coordinating that in Region 5.

We signed it in December of 2001.  We actually started getting partners to come aboard that year in August.  So, it's been roughly, I guess, a year and a half of data since we've had partners on board.

The first year we had 39 partners.  This last year we had 53 partners.  We have excluded some companies because they've had fatalities or wilful violations, or just not measured up with the agreement.

The data looks pretty good with regards to OSHA data and compliance data.  We have had no partner fatalities in the industry so far, so that's really good.  We have continually found less violations, not just on partners, but in the industry. 

This last year we've reported five inspections of partners.  This is other than Region 5.  Or this is Region 5 and the rest of the nation.  We only found one fall protection violation. 

Historically, our first year of our emphasis program, we found that 75 percent of tower inspections we did had fall-related violations.  Last year, only 28 percent had them.  So, it is coming down.

We used to find, sometimes, the terrible conditions that you referred to.  Now we find that most of them have the semblance of a program.  What we have to do, is we need to get to those folks who own the towers and make them responsible with regards to some encouragement that they hire contractors that are qualified.  I think Mr. Henshaw's letter to the industry helped that quite a bit.  I don't want to get into your stuff.

But, anyway, the partnership does seem to be successful.  There may be a push to go national with that partnership.  It requires them to do the OSHA 10- and 30-hour course.  We had 116 folks train in the 30, and 500 and some trained in the 10-hour.  So, that's about 10 percent of the industry. 

If there are 10,000 in the industry--which is probably an over estimate, there's probably around 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, that's what NATE says--and they had 16 fatalities last year, if the average nationwide is 5 per 100,000 and you have 16, that's 160 per 100,000, so we're talking about 30 times. 

So, he's correct, that's about what it is.  It's a tough measure by fatalities because it's such an industry that it is a small industry and it's hard to measure, with just a few fatalities here and there, if we're making success.

Eventually I think we will, but I think we are making success within the industry from peer pressure by NATE with our training and outreach and programs we've designed with our partnerships and the folks that have come forward willing to have model safety and health programs mentor others in the industry and the support from the national office, Mr. Henshaw, and Bruce's group with regards to outreach to the industry, which we've done quite a bit.  We have a great relationship with NATE. 

But there are two different actors.  There are people who are really trying to do it in those responsible companies, and there are those who can make a lot of money by not doing it and not having a $30,000 hoist, but having $200 hoists, as you referred to.  So, that's the one we need to get to, and they're hard to target.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Scott?

MR. SCHNEIDER:  I was just wondering.  It seems like one possible solution is to have a requirement that before any towers get put up, they have to send a notice to OSHA before they start work so OSHA knows where and when these things are going up.

We've had discussions about this in the past with other types of hazardous operations.  At least an e-mail, a notice, or a phone call to OSHA would alert you and you'd have the possibility of being there and making sure it's done right.  If they don't do it, then you can find them, obviously, if they're not reporting.

MR. MEDLOCK:  That's excellent.  There's just nothing in the rulemaking process right now that allows us to do that.  We have done some building permits with local authorities, that when they're filed with a tower, please let us know. 

We've been successful, somewhat, locally doing that.  We've tried to go with the FCC and possibly get some lists.  But the dates are real broad as to when they go up.  But that is the answer. 

I know that's been effective with trenching, even in some states, where if you're going to build a trench or you're going to dig a trench you have to notify the authorities and notify OSHA.  You are correct, that is a good way, but it takes the rulemaking process.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Go ahead, Jane.

MS. WILLIAMS:  From memory, do I remember that NATE required a -- as part of its partnership and in their own -- am I remembering that right?

MR. MEDLOCK:  That is a part of the directive, is that you must have 100 percent fall protection for over 25 feet, because we're still under that 105 standard.  They're not under Subpart M or they're not under the steel erection standard.  That's the reason that they sort of wanted their own standard and directive. 

NATE endorses complying with our standards.  There was an issue of free-climbing in the past, and they wanted that as a part of the directive.  But since we've worked together and we've educated each other on how to provide fall protection all the time with regards to it being feasible, now they endorse our policy. 

They did have some early videos on qualified climbing courses that mentioned free climbing that are still out there, so there's some confusion with regard to their policy. 

But they do not endorse free climbing.  They endorse following our regulations.  Indeed, that is a part of the partnership with regards to having personal protective equipment when you climb. 

MS. WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Tom Broderick?

MR. BRODERICK:  Looking at the day of week on this graph here that Kevin gave us, I thought it was kind of interesting that close to 40 percent of the losses happened on Saturday and Sunday.  In fact, the preponderance of the 22 percent happened on Sunday.  That seems kind of curious.  It sort of coincides with compliance officers' work weeks.

(Laughter)

MR. MEDLOCK:  It does.  It also coincides with when one has a tendency to party, to be honest with you.  I think that's a real problem in this industry.  I have hired an expert in the industry, John Pavilian, who works for me who's in the audience and he used to run a tower company. 

When he went to a drug-free, alcohol-free workplace and began testing employees, his workforce went from 30 to 2 in one day.  And he worked for a great company.  They were one of the leaders in the industry.

The industry is getting educated and they are going that way, but it is tremendous strides to make.  These folks work isolated in different parts of the country.  They're usually younger individuals, mainly male-dominated.  That is a practice that has been ongoing.  It's something that they're trying to address through the tower erectors themselves, the companies.

But you lose a lot of workers.  When there is a boom on, you don't want to lose workers.  So, that's a problem and it's one that we haven't been able to address effectively yet.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Mike?

MR. SOTELO:  Scott, on your statement about notification, I mean, it's a good idea.  I just don't know that OSHA has the resources to respond.  Would you see that as being a problem, with having as many compliance officers being able to go out and check something like that?  It seems to me that we can get to the root of the problem by dealing with the owners of the towers themselves, the MCIs of the world. 

There are a lot of owners that we have in Washington State that have criteria for being able to do any kind of constructability on their projects whatsoever. 

I think that that is something where we might be able to get to the root of the problem there, is dealing maybe at that higher level versus hoping that there's another compliance officer that is going to show up to check out a tower.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Kevin, didn't you look into that?

MR. BEAUREGARD:  I did, a little bit.  I do agree that I think it would be difficult to respond to all the calls.  Just think about how many excavations and trenches are out there.  If OSHA required a call for every excavation and trench, I think OSHA would probably be in the business of looking at excavations and trenches and nothing else.  That being said, maybe there is something that can be done as far as reporting.

I don't think that -- and I'm speaking from someone that runs a state program.  I don't think the issue is -- we're finding plenty of excavations and trenches.  The problem is, there are still excavations and trenches that are not being addressed correctly. 

I switched subjects from trenches versus towers because of the trench thing, but I think the tower thing would probably be the same issue.  If you're talking about 300,000 towers, I don't know how many -- nor do I know that we want to go out there and inspect 300,000 towers.

What I'd like to do, and I know it sounds like a lot of people have questions, is let me go through the rest of the presentation and try to hold questions until the end, if I can, because I know we've rearranged the schedule a little bit.  I think it's close to noontime, now, so I'll go through.

And I appreciate Rob coming up.  He'll be around, I think, if you have some questions for him later.  He's a wealth of information on the subject of fatalities.  Thanks, Rob.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Just one additional item.  I went over most of these statistics, but Tom had mentioned the loss on the weekends.  If you look at those statistics that NATE insurance gave me, 62 percent of the losses do occur Friday through Monday.  I agree with some of the suppositions that were made, there's probably some reason for that. 

People have a tendency to go out on the weekends, and there are some other reasons.  But I did want to point out that that's not 62 percent of the injuries.  That's 62 percent of the pay-outs.  What I have seen from the other data is, there are more severe injuries and fatalities that are occurring on the weekends, not necessarily more.

If you look at the chart that we have, under "Frequency" it actually gives the frequency and the occurrence of the actual incident.  So if you look, the weekends don't necessarily have more incidents, they have more severe incidents.  That is where you're seeing that figure.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Finally, getting into the meat of the presentation, our workgroup had some objectives, and one of them was to make recommendations for targeting for outreach and inspection activities.

When John Henshaw came and talked to our group, I think, in the spring, he wanted to make sure that, as a group, we understood that they wanted ACCSH not only to make recommendations on standards, but also on some compliance assistance, outreach, or other avenues that may be effective in dealing with certain issues.

So, we certainly wanted to make it a primary objective of our workgroup to make some recommendations.  We don't have a tower standard right now, so there's got to be some other ways we can get at this issue.  Like I said, there are some things that had been occurring and we have come up with some ideas for some additional ideas as well.

For the outreach activities.  Now, we did put together a detailed outline of the potential tower standard.  That's in your handout.  All that is is an outline of topics that the group felt should be covered should a standard be promulgated in the future.  There may be things that are in addition to those, but those are our best shot at the items that we thought should be included.

Also, we wanted to identify some industry best practices.  We set out as an objective to develop Spanish language materials.  As I finish the presentation, I'll let you know what we decided on that as well.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  For targeting strategies, this has always been an issue for whether you're talking about compliance or outreach, is how do you get it out to the people that you need to get it out to?  The FCC does have a registration process for certain towers, and I think that's a good place to start.

The letter that Secretary Henshaw sent out last year, I think, was also a good place to start.  There were two letters that went out, one to tower owners, and I can't remember the group that the other one went out to, but it was also associated with towers.  It was a good way to put people on notice that there is an issue in industry and we need some help to address that.

We encourage sending some more letters and outreach information to licensing applicants of towers.  If you're going to put up a tower, you're going to have to have a license for that tower.  So when somebody registers with the FCC, it might be a good idea to make sure that, if they don't already have that information, to make sure they get the information.

There are also some recommendations about possibly some letters talking about best practices.  There is a wealth of information on that.  The issue is getting it into the right hands and making sure that they use it.

Communicate with city and county building permits.  I can't speak on how all states and jurisdictions work, but many of the states and jurisdictions actually permit through the county or the city. 

So if you want to know where a tower is going up and it is in a county, they're going to have to go to the county to get a building permit for the tower.  So, it may behoove OSHA to communicate with the municipalities across the country. 

Interestingly enough, OSHA does not have jurisdiction over the municipalities, so it actually may be a good outreach effort because there's not really a fear of reprisal on compliance on that side.

Also, communicate with the FAA.  Certain towers, not all towers, need to be permitted through the FAA.  Any ones that surround an airport or an airfield or something that may get into air traffic is required, but certainly not all of them.

Probably the biggest thing our group worked on was outreach activities.  In your packet, you have a group of outreach activities that are recommended that may not have looked exactly like this format, but they're the same issues.

One of them was the development of an OSHA 500 specifically for towers.  I will say that it is my understanding that that is already under way.  It is being developed.  From what I hear, possibly by the fall or the end of the year, there will be an OSHA 500 course dedicated specifically for towers. 

I think you'll probably hear more of that at the May conference in a few weeks, but I think it is under way.  There are some people from the OSHA Institute that are here that may be able to speak more specifically on the status of that process.

Development of a 30-hour supervisor course and a 10-hour field employee course.  OSHA is already working on these items as well.  So, some of these things, they may sound like, well, why are you recommending these. 

Well, some of them are in the process.  Some of them, when we started this process, weren't in the process.  But we do all feel as a group that they are important things to continue on.

We do think that the implementation of a nationwide tower emphasis program similar to the one that went on in Region 5 would certainly be beneficial.  It sounds like Region 5's program had the desired results.  Not when you are looking at just strictly the fatality number, as Rob had indicated.

That is a very small number to look at.  But I think what is more impressive to me, is from the time they started that program until now, they've seen a dramatic decrease in the number of serious violations that their compliance staff is issuing, particularly on fall protection.

We also feel that OSHA should work on developing a tower e-tool.  I heard John Henshaw speak earlier that you're going to get an increase in funding for compliance assistance.  I believe he mentioned that some of that was going to be dedicated to the development of e-tools.

I think a tower e-tool would be a real good place to put that in.  For those of you that are not familiar with the e-tool, Federal OSHA has a Web site that has tools on it for various trades, practices, or industries. 

You simply click on different figures in there and it will tell you what the requirements are.  Some of them are interactive.  They'll show you a picture of the -- et cetera.  We think that would be an excellent tool.

However, that being said, I think Mike Sotelo, when he was talking about the Hispanic issue, said the Web site stuff is great, but I need something I can put my hands on.

In that light, we also think, once some of these things are developed, they should also put together a CD or a disk so that we can ship it out to some people that are in our industry to get it into their hands, because if they have it they are probably more likely to use it. 

I do think the Web site is getting a lot of activity, particularly from the safety and health community, but we need to get some more activity with the workers that are out there.

Development of an OSHA hazard alert.  I don' think there's one on towers right now.  Our group did feel that that was something that should be developed.  I know North Carolina developed a hazard alert on towers, but I'm not sure if there's a federal hazard alert on tower erection.

NIOSH workplace solutions dealing with tower upgrades and co-location.  One of the big issues that appears in the tower industry right now is, in addition to putting up new towers, there's a lot of co-location and upgrades going on on existing towers. 

I know just last year we've seen a couple of tower collapses.  I think some of those investigations are still ongoing, but some of the issues may be that the tower is more designed to hold the amount of weight that they are getting ready to put on those towers.  So, we think that is another issue that needs to be addressed.

Development of mailing lists for towers, operators, carriers.  I sat in on one of the sessions at the Construction Safety Council.  Somebody indicated in there that there are several mailing lists available for people in the communication tower industry, and one of them, I believe, was in the broadcast industry, which was 26,000 participants on that e-mail list.  So, that may be a good place to get the message out if, in fact, you can get ahold of that list.

Use the OSHA Education Centers that are stationed across the country to put on some of those 30-hour and 10-hour training, or 500-hour training.  Interact with the appropriate associations.  Continue to work with NATE.  But there may be other associations out there that represent other people within industry.

NATE, I believe, has about 25 percent of the workforce in that industry, so there's still a significant number of people that aren't members of NATE.

Safe practice booklets and pamphlets.  NATE has developed some.  OSHA has developed some.  Some other entities have developed some.  We think this should be encouraged to get the message out.

Possibility of private training entities and advertising.  To the best of my recommendation, what this was about, is if OSHA does not have the staff to do the training to get some private consultants and others under contract to help out with that, I think the Institute generally does that as a practice when they put on different portions. 

Also, possibly putting some advertisements and some trade publications, whether they would be specific to towers or to the construction industry.  There are many trade publications out there.

Then continue to work with the insurance companies.  I think the insurance companies have many great assets.  One of them certainly is, they have their hands on the figures.  They have their hands on figures that OSHA will never see. 

I think, by working and developing additional partnerships with the agencies or the insurance companies that work with towers, I think we can probably get a handle on not only what is out there, but when some of these things are implemented, what kind of impact it is having on the industry to see if it's being successful or not.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  The standard topics.  I'm not going to go through this.  You have it in front of you.  But the main topics that are on there are the main issues that the group felt needed to be addressed.

If there are standards promulgated, certainly fall protection is the number-one area.  There are some other areas, such as non-ionizing radiation, training, emergency response.

If you have an incident up on a tower, you want to make sure there's a way to get that person down.  We've had some serious injuries and fatalities not necessarily related to the initial incident, but in trying to get somebody down off of the tower afterwards.

Best practices is the third thing that we're working on.  I don't have anything to present to the group at this time.  We do have a list of 18 best practices that are being worked on.  We're hoping, once those are complete and reviewed, to present them to the group so we can look at them, and also to disseminate them for additional information.

NATE does have some things on pre-employment screening.  The question came up about, why all the accidents on weekends.  There's no requirement for pre-employment screening.  There's no requirement for a drug test. 

I don't think that right now it is probably an area that we want to require a standard on.  I may be wrong.  But I do think it is a big enough issue that it certainly should be something that is taught in the training and outreach initiatives that go on. 

Just the little bit that I have heard about from the industry, it does seem to be an issue within industry and it may cut down on a significant number of these injuries and accidents if folks aren't under the influence while they're climbing towers.

There are numerous publications available.  I've got some of them up here with me.  There's a tower owner checklist.  I will tell you that North Carolina is hopefully close to going forward with a rule on towers. 

I have a final draft, what I'm hoping is a final draft, so we're hoping to move forward on that in a couple of weeks.  Our initial draft had a section on tower owners in it.  The draft, as it stands right now, does not have a section on tower owners.  The issue primarily had to do with enforcement.

OSHA enforces issues where there's an employer and employee relationship.  If there's an owner relationship but the owner is not on-site and is not controlling the employees, it's a difficult enforcement issue to deal with.

But NATE has put together a tower owner checklist recommendation form that actually gives some recommendations for owners, for a prudent owner, on what they think they should look at before allowing somebody to work on one of their sites.  I think that's a good idea.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  On the Spanish language material, we had a lot of people on the workgroup from the industry.  What I was getting from the industry, is currently as it stands right now, there is not a large Hispanic workforce in the tower erection industry.  That may change.  But the thought was that, at this point, probably not a lot of time should be dedicated to working on Spanish language materials. 

However, as materials become available, it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and start translating them into Spanish as well, because we'll probably see the same thing in that field as we've seen in the other fields.  It just seems like right now there's not a large number of Hispanics in that field, from what I get from the meetings that we've had.

That's the presentation in a nutshell.  I think, probably later today or tomorrow, I may be asking the full body of ACCSH to vote on a motion on whether or not we make these recommendations to Federal OSHA or not.  But in the meantime, I'll be glad to answer any questions that you have.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Scott?

MR. SCHNEIDER:  Yes.  I was just wondering.  This is all focused on tower erection.  I'm wondering, as we get built out with towers, how much work is necessary to maintain the towers, or repair them?  There may be unstable conditions.  Maybe it should be a little broader in not just erection, but also erection and maintenance.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  It did and I just didn't present it in that manner.  But it actually does cover tower erection and maintenance.

MR. SCHNEIDER:  Okay. 

And in response to what Mike was saying, the notion is not that if there is some sort of registration or phone call to OSHA, that OSHA would go out and inspect every site.

It's just a question of, if OSHA knows where the sites are, number one, they have the option of inspecting, and two, people who are out there who are on these sites know that there's a potential that OSHA could come.

So, they're not going to get to every one of them, but at least there is an option.  Right now, they may not even know where they are and it may cause a problem.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Scott, I wouldn't disagree with you.  Certainly, if we knew where more of these sites were we'd probably go to more of these sites, either with outreach activity, standard activity, or compliance activity.  Short of having a requirement that required employers to notify OSHA, I'm not sure that you would have success in getting those done.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Okay.  Kevin, we thank you.  I know that Frank Migliaccio and former member Jim Ahern were part of your workgroup.  But Kevin has been religious in e-mailing me progress reports.  I'm telling you, he dug into this thing and is extremely dedicated. 

I appreciate your work on that.  I mean, it's been a lot of work for you, I know, in addition to what your normal duties are back in North Carolina.  But you've really glommed onto this thing, and we're glad that you did because you've done a great job to this point.  You really have.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Thank you.  I had a lot of help and a lot of support.  I will say, the Directorate of Construction has been very supportive.  They've had people involved.  The OSHA Institute has had people involved.  I think there were probably about six to seven OSHA people at our last meeting.  So, it's certainly not me.  I'm trying to get it all together, but they did the bulk of the work.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Okay.  And we'll hold your request for a motion for later in the day or for first thing tomorrow morning, if you don't mind.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  That's okay.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  We'll just talk about it and see what the proper procedure is for presenting that and we'll go from there.  Okay. 

RECESS, RETURN TO AFTERNOON SESSION

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  I'd like to call on Kevin Beauregard.  He'd like to put something before the committee regarding his presentation this morning on the tower erection.

MR. BEAUREGARD:  Mr. Chairman, in light of the Tower Workgroup's activities, the presentation, and also hearing about the Federal Region 5 tower initiative, and a few moments ago Paula White mentioning the alliance up in Philadelphia, I'd like to make the following motion:

ACCSH respectfully requests that OSHA expeditiously move forward in developing and implementing a national emphasis program regarding the construction and maintenance of telecommunication towers. 

It is further recommended that these efforts include, 1) outreach activities; 2) targeting activities that would be for outreach and compliance activity in the consideration of adding a tower standard to the regulatory agenda. 

Included with this request is a list of specific targeting approaches and outreach activities that should be included in this endeavor by OSHA.  I will give you a copy of those.

Additionally, ACCSH also recommends the continuance of a telecommunication workgroup to review activities and topics related to telecommunication towers until such time as this item is placed on the regulatory agenda.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Is there a second to that motion?

MR. BRODERICK:  I'll second it.

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  The motion has been made.  You've heard it.  It's been regularly moved and seconded.  Anybody on the question?

(No response)

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  All those in favor, signify by the sign, aye.

(A chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  Opposed, if any?

(No response)

CHAIRMAN KRUL:  So moved.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Safety   Training

Equipment

Consultants

EMPLOYEE REPRESENTATIVES
ROBERT KRULUpIcon
FRANK L. MIGLIACCIO, JR.
SCOTT SCHNEIDER
WILLIAM C. RHOTEN

EMPLOYER REPRESENTATIVES
DAN MURPHY
GREG STRUDWICK
DAVID M. BUSH
MIKE SOTELO
MICHAEL J. THIBODEAUX

STATE REPRESENTATIVES
KEVIN BEAUREGARD
KEITH GODDARD

PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES
THOMAS A. BRODERICK
JANE F. WILLIAMS

FEDERAL NIOSH REPRESENTATIVE
CHERYL FAIRFIELD ESTILL

DESIGNATED FEDERAL OFFICIAL
BRUCE SWANSON, DIRECTOR
Directorate of Construction

COMMITTEE CONTACTS
STEWART BURKHAMMER, DIRECTOR
Office of Construction Services
Directorate of Construction
STEVE CLOUTIER
Office of Construction Services
Directorate of Construction
SARAH SHORTALL
ACCSH Counsel
Office of the Solicitor
VENETTA CHATMON

ALSO PRESENT:
ASSISTANT SECRETARY JOHN HENSHAW
STEVE WITT
AMANDA EDENS
ROB MEDLOCK
FELIPE DEVORA
BOB BURT (Via Teleconference)
PAULA WHITE
MICHAEL BUCHET
ZIGMAS SADAUSKAS

 
   
     
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