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OSHA, FCC Seek to Foster Safety Culture for Tower Work

Want to promote best practices at all levels through advisory document

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration and The Federal Communications Commission have released their guidance for Communication Tower Best Practices.

In the introduction, OSHA and the FCC emphasize that it is advisory in nature and informational in content. It is not a standard or regulation, and it neither creates new legal obligations nor alters existing obligations created by OSHA standards or the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Both are concerned about the risks faced by employees in the communication tower industry. Employees climb communication towers to perform construction and maintenance activities and face numerous hazards. The document also notes that the business structure of the communication tower industry presents additional challenges to ensuring employee safety because the tower owners do not necessarily directly employ those who install and/or maintain the towers — and thus — responsibility for employee safety is fractured into many layers.

This document is a collection of best practices gleaned from October 2014 and February 2016 workshops hosted by OSHA and the FCC. Each section is focused on different ways in which each level in the contracting chain can foster a culture of safety and accountability.

According to the best practices document, the core elements of a comprehensive safety and health program include:

  • Management leadership: Managers at all levels continually demonstrate their commitment to improved safety and health. Accountability and diligence is maintained at every level organization.
  • Employee participation: Employees are involved in all aspects of the program and understand their roles and responsibilities under the program and what they need to do to carry them out effectively.
  • Hazard identification and assessment:Procedures are put in place to continually identify workplace hazards and evaluate risks, both job-specific and systemic.
  • Hazard prevention and control: A plan is developed to ensure that hazard controls are implemented, to track progress and to verify the effectiveness of controls once they are implemented.
  • Education and training: Supervisors and employees are trained to understand how the program works and how to carry out the responsibilities assigned to them under the program.
  • Program evaluation and improvement: Processes are established to monitor program performance, to verify program implementation, to identify program deficiencies and opportunities for improvement and to take actions necessary to improve the program and overall safety and health performance.
  • Communication on multi-employer workplaces: Host and contract employers coordinate on work planning and scheduling to identify and resolve any conflicts that could impact safety/health.

In the following weeks, we’ll share more excerpts from this document.