Interagency squabble ends with OSHA requiring the nation’s revered raptors to harness up

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator


The requirement for eagles to be additionally protected with a harness is being seen as an egregious overreach by OSHA

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) severed all relationships with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today, announcing that both agencies were at an impasse regarding the best option to use that will ensure the continued safety of bald eagles while they are working or resting at heights.

The clash between both organizations surfaced in August 2007 when the FWS delisted the bald eagle as an endangered species.

After poisonous insecticide DDT, fishing line, lead shotgun pellets, wind farms, and were banned in 1972, the bald eagle, more commonly known by its endearing nickname Haliaeetus leucocephalus, had a recovery that is one of the United States’ most important wildlife conservation success stories.

Tethered to feathers

However, in what has been described by legislators as the most egregious agency overreach in history to exert regulatory authority, then Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., who said tower climbing was the most dangerous job in America, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would require bald eagles to be tied off at all times while perched on a communications tower.

In an archived statement announcing the NPRM, Foulke said, “All lives matter, especially eaglets who remind me so much of kinder, gentler days in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, when I was eight carrying on a conversation with a baby sparrow in a nest for 11 days, cautioning it about slips, trips, and falls.”

“I’ve seen scared green bean climbers feverishly claw a step bolt like an eagle on a PiRod horizontal brace while it’s sleeping. But both, who believe they are seemingly safe, can be whacked unconscious by a bowling ball-sized hailstone or parts of an errant Russian reconnaissance balloon and fall to their death if they’re not tied off,” Foulke added.

The Eagle standard has landed

The proposed rule requiring all bald eagles, “including those who are not monogamous, or have adopted another nonbi(rd)nary identity,” to wear proper PPE while on a communications structure and to be tied off at all times was approved today by OSHA. It will take effect on May 1, 2023.

In a press release, OSHA chief Douglas Parker said, “Basketball-sized and more giant hailstones are creating an existential eagle threat. I’m pleased that our team addressed the problem before the first instance occurs.

In a joint statement to the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chairman Bob Latta (R. OH), applauding Parker’s rule, NATE, TIA, WISPA, WIA, CTIA, CCA, NTIA, and EIEIO wrote, “We’re supportive of broadband and the broader animal kingdom and can appreciate how OSHA’s beachball-sized hailstones can be devastatingly dangerous to bald eagles. However, we must vigorously stress that it’s more important for your subcommittee to laser focus on the costly harm giant bounce house-sized hailstones can do to our transmitting equipment and the nation’s wireless ecosystem — and how the administration will fund repairs at cost plus 212%.”

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