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Assessing the ANSI/ASSE A10.48 Standard

Why it matters for the communications tower industry

Todd Schlekeway is the executive director of the National Association of Tower Erectors. Commentaries by NATE are a recurring feature of opinion content on Radio World.

The broadcast and wireless communication tower industries recently received notification that the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Safety Engineers A10.48-2016 Standard has been finalized. Carriers, broadcasters, vertical real estate companies, general contracting firms, insurance companies, tower contractors and consultants will all benefit from this new standard. 

The “A10.48 Standard — Criteria for Safety Practices with the Construction, Demolition, Modification and Maintenance of Communications Structures” is a game changer for the industry as it has the distinction of being the first comprehensive standard encompassing the entire communication tower construction, service and maintenance industry.

The standard establishes minimum criteria for safe work practices and training for personnel performing work on communication structures including antenna and antenna supporting structures, broadcast and other similar structures supporting communication related equipment. The complete construction and use standard thoroughly addresses the following categories:

Pre-Job Planning
Job Site Conditions
Fall Protection
Radio Frequency/Electromagnetic Energy
Base Mounted Hoists Used for Overhead Material Lifting and Personnel Lifting
Personnel Lifting Accessories and Processes
Gin Poles and Other Lifting Devices
Climbing Facilities and Access
Structural Construction Loading Considerations
Training Program
Capstan Hoist
Helicopter Used for Lifting Loads

A10.48 is a consensus standard, meaning that stakeholders from a diverse group of companies and organizations came together for compiling the industry’s best practices and writing them into a standardized format. This information was then reviewed, debated and selected based upon the best methods. The A10.48 represents a comprehensive effort that places all of the communication tower processes, procedures and protocols in one location.

Besides becoming an indispensable resource for the communications tower industry, it will also serve to describe to OSHA what contractors are adhering to from a worker safety and quality standpoint. It is certainly our desire that OSHA will adopt the A10.48 standard to simplify their understanding of the tower industry. NATE is opening that door of opportunity now with our counterparts in the federal government. NATE believes the comprehensive A10.48 standard will be the single best source for the entire industry when it becomes available in the marketplace.

We also believe that the A10.48 standard will allow both NATE and the industry at-large to benchmark and track key performance indicators that ultimately will allow individual companies to compare their performance to other companies. NATE currently is tracking certain performance indicators through our signature STAR Initiative program. The STAR Initiative is a program that gathers site-safety audit data from participating member companies on a quarterly basis throughout each year. This program annually produces tangible audit data that allows NATE the association to promote the efforts of the industry’s best contractors. Over time, I could envision a scenario where elements of the A10.48 standard are included in the STAR Initiative audit documentation requirements.

Over the coming weeks, representatives from NATE, ASSE and the Telecommunications Industry Association will be providing additional information and educational opportunities regarding the new A10.48 standard. Additionally, NATE will be providing information to the industry in the near future on how to purchase the A10.48 standard through the association when it is officially published.

NATE is proud to have played a crucial role in establishing the standard and helping get this valuable resource across the goal line. In summarizing the significance of this resource, perhaps former NATE chairman and long-time broadcast industry executive Don Doty said it best when he stated, “The release of the A10.48 standard is one of the most significant developments to have occurred in my 43 years working in the industry.”

Todd can be reached by phone at (888) 882-5865 and by email.