By Miranda Allen, CEO RSI Corp.
Fraudulent safety training cards are circulating putting us at risk. The definition of a fraudulent act is intentional deception of a person or entity by another made for monetary or personal gain. Fraud can be prosecuted both civilly and criminally. Wire fraud is a federal crime and occurs whenever a person uses a phone, electronic communication device, or a computer with internet to commit an act of fraud. Penalties can be from monetary or up to incarceration!
Over the past year, RSI has verified numerous phony RSI RF Safety training cards. These counterfeit cards were discovered through the effort of diligent network deployment partner, Nexius. Nexius checks all contractor training certifications. One of the fatalities of 2016 had a forged RSI RF Safety card issued to the deceased worker. This is not only tragic it’s criminal. If we are finding numerous cases of illegitimate cards with only just Nexius calling for verification, think how many must be floating around!
This isn’t isolated to RF training; it is happening in other safety training areas such as fall protection. Just a few weeks ago RSI received a RSI Rigging certificate. Of course it was counterfeit as RSI doesn’t provide rigging training. Falsification for rigging could be deadly to everyone on the site! It’s wrong and must be stopped. All companies must start auditing contractors and verifying training. This should be done initially and randomly. Complacency could lead to accidents or fatalities.
Fake safety training certs are hurting everyone. Not only could it be life or death, but false certification puts all companies that pay for actual training at a competitive disadvantage. Safety training costs money and time! Those companies not providing the training are underbidding those companies that are meeting safety requirements. Our industry has worked hard to decrease accidents and deaths; however not all companies are created equal. The uneven playing field hurts everyone from the subs to the carriers and all in between.
For this to change, every company in the contracting chain, from the carrier, site owner, turf vendor, and sub-contractor must diligently audit training records and always enforce safety policies. Call the actual training provider to verify cards are legitimate. Safety costs money but calling and verifying safety training is valid doesn’t.
THE DOL/FCC communications tower best practices guide lays out responsibilities very clearly. “Every entity in the contract chain should require lower-level contractors to have a comprehensive safety and health program in place. The verification process should include random onsite audits performed by independent third parties. It is strongly recommended to verify the training and certification carried by employees of contractors.” Contractor management programs are a critical first step. Having documentation of training is critical; however this is not enough. Verifying this training is authentic must be the industry standard.
We’ve spoken to several of the companies and employees named on the counterfeit certification. They tell us it’s “common practice for someone to take an online course for someone else.” We were told by the recipient listed on the fake rigging card people are always taking the AT&T ask yourself online training for someone else! This is shocking if it’s true that in our industry the standard practice is to skirt the system designed to help ensure the safety of everyone.
There must be steep and immediate repercussions for counterfeit training documents. By submitting fake documents, these companies are cheating the employee, the client, the entire industry, and therefore must be stopped.
Starting immediately, RSI will begin publishing a severe violator enforcement list of our own. It will be tailored after OSHA’s list and will be published online for all to see. The goal of this list is to ensure we are all on the same page and are all aware of counterfeiting companies. We will remove the names of the individuals, for now. However as you can see from the rigging photo above, the company didn’t put their name on it.
Together we can ensure a safer industry and truly competitive bid process through auditing and enforcement. This is good for our industry and everyone in the contracting chain.
Editor’s Note: Miranda Allen’s topic of false certificates is very timely since last month in a Facebook group copies of emails offering to sell fake certificates for $50 by a construction supervisor/manager had an RSI certificate shown as an example of the fine work that he could produce. The posts were later removed. However; a number of individuals informed Wireless Estimator that they had contacted the man’s employer.
RSI specializes in Radiofrequency Radiation safety compliance. For more information visit www.rsicorp.com