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How to prevent telecom tower operation and maintenance accidents
January 6, 2021 at 6:00 AM
Photo of helmets that help prevent telecom operation and maintanance accidents.

The incidence of structural failure among telecom towers often results in injury and sometimes death. With an increase in the number of communications towers and the continuing use of existing towers, the number of tower-related injuries is on the rise.

Agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have employed actions to take further safety precautions in preventing tower operation and maintenance accidents.

Pay attention to compliance responsibilities

There are compliance responsibilities that govern the construction of telecom towers and antennas that result in penalties and fines if violated. These compliances serve as extra protection for workers to prevent accidents. Tower owners are primarily responsible for these compliances, but FCC licensee-tenants are also responsible.

Our engineers at Tower Engineering Company are knowledgeable in compliances requirements and cater to construction firms that must meet these specifications. When constructing any tower, our engineers comply with environmental rules and requirements set by the FCC.

We make adjustments as needed to meet compliance requirements that consider effects on migratory birds, wildlife preserves, wilderness areas, critical habitats, historic places, flood plains, religious sites, and other environmental considerations that may arise during the construction process.

Follow workplace safety rules

Preventing telecom tower accidents starts with thorough planning and training. Workers can find themselves in dangerous situations while climbing towers, so they must be trained and have the physical ability to follow through on safety practices. OSHA and other agencies like the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), offer regularly updated certifications designed to ensure workers can safely and proficiently use new equipment and techniques.

Towers that include multiple types of antennas transmit and/or receive different frequencies and intensities of radio frequency (RF) radiation. While falls are the biggest cause of tower accidents, high levels of radiation can cause physical damage to the body. Workplace rules are set by the FCC to limit exposure while touching antennas and performing tasks close to antennas. Workers can reduce exposure by wearing protective clothing and carrying an RF monitor to keep track of exposure levels.

Use protective equipment

Regulations require workers who climb towers to be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) suited for specific tasks. Equipment may include a helmet, gloves, boots, safety glass, and a harness. On top of proper training, these regulations serve as an extra layer of protection for workers and can prevent significant accidents.

Because workers may come into contact with multiple tower designs and materials, they must understand which places they should secure their fall gear. Some workers may climb hundreds to thousands of feet above the ground. Workers must use fixed ladders, support structures, or step bolts to secure themselves. In some cases, inclement weather with high winds and ice storms can make climbing even more dangerous. It’s important to ensure they are using the correct fall equipment since most deaths and injuries related to towers result from falls.

About Tower Engineering Company

Tower Engineering Company has taken an active leadership role in tower engineering in the broadcast and communication industry. Safety is a large priority on our construction sites. The analysis, design, inspection, and site development of broadcasting towers revolve around safety precautions and procedures. With towers built in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, we have experience in all aspects of safely constructing broadcast towers.

Led by industry pioneer, Madison J. Batt, PE, SE, Tower Engineering is committed to the long-term viability of tower assets. With over 45 years of combined industry experience, we’ve continuously been committed to mentor young engineers so that they may safely contribute to the rich heritage of the industry.

Contact us for more information about our approach to safety and tower operation and maintenance accident prevention.