Commentary — Last June, when OSHA floated the possibility that the agency was going to request information that would assist it in determining what additional steps it can take to prevent injuries and fatalities during tower work, some workers, employers, manufacturers and others had reservations about whether the RFI would address important tower safety issues, or be a pre-regulation proposal for ideas that OSHA was already convinced should be in place. (See: Comments)
However, no matter what the questions entailed, it was generally agreed that since this was the first time in the long history of the wireless construction industry that OSHA would be reaching out to all stakeholders, especially tower climbers, to assist it in obtaining information about worker safety, they would be inundated with solid and concerned comments from thousands of people.
Response is embarrassing
Instead, the RFI, almost halfway through its 60-day comment period, is shaping up to be a wireless industry embarrassment.
Although the National Association of Tower Erectors, the most influential and proactive trade group for tower climber safety, said it would provide a unified response to some of the 38 questions being asked, the organization also put out a request to its 700-plus members to respond to the RFI, but membership response to date has been negligible at best.
In addition, there is a glaring absence of tower owners, manufacturers, distributors, engineers, integrators, and other stakeholders who haven’t commented.
Where are all of the safety training companies that should be providing their valuable input when it’s needed now, not during class dialogues after the fact?
Where are the insurance carriers, the wireless carriers and others who frequently champion the call for reduced injuries and fatalities?
Also not responding to the RFI are the dozens of members of the Wireless Industry Safety Task Force. And if they believe that a response from their organization with key player signatures on it is the only thing necessary to sway OSHA’s thinking, they’re sadly mistaken.
The most humiliating response has come from tower climbers, the folks who will benefit – or be hurt – the most from this RFI.
With over 29,000 elevated workers in the wireless industry only a handful have commented so far.
Although OSHA officials, have specifically asked for tower climbers to respond, it appears that many of them can’t break away from their non-stop nonsensical posting on Facebook to offer something constructive.
Repetitiveness will influence OSHA
OSHA will not be assessing comments for originality, but to identify if there is a continuity of concern and best practices within the industry.
“Some folks think that after reading the responses that everything has already been said. It is important for them to still leave a comment so that the depth of similar responses can be seen. One person saying something is never as important as when everyone says it,” said Andrew Bond, a training specialist at Siemens Industry USA.
Find out on June 15, 2015 who really cares
A conservative estimate is that there are over 85,000 industry personnel who could easily comment upon the RFI with their insight that OSHA sorely needs.
On June 15, 2015 when the RFI ends you’ll be able to easily see here how many people took the time to truly assist in creating a safer environment for all workers.
They deserve the industry’s thanks and business. And for the apathetic rest, let’s show our disdain with a well-warranted Bronx cheer.