Schlekeway: NATE Has Been Global Leader in Safety

Association’s exec director tells Radio World about NWSA, STAR Initiative and more
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Todd Schlekeway

The National Association of Tower Erections began its new membership year on July 1, so Radio World turned to the association’s Executive Director Todd Schlekeway to learn more about current goings on at NATE.

Radio World: Please describe how NATE’s mission relates to the work done by broadcast engineers.
Schlekeway: For 20 years, the National Association of Tower Erectors has been the undisputed global leader in safety, standards and education for the wireless and broadcast communications infrastructure industries. The work that broadcast engineers perform on a daily basis is having a transformational impact on virtually all sectors of our economy — from health care to finance, energy to manufacturing, higher education to agriculture, military to public safety and everything in between. NATE has developed many safety materials and best practices resources that are of tremendous benefit to the broadcast industry and Radio World’s audience in general. NATE has also helped develop many of the ANSI and TIA Standards that are currently followed by broadcast industry workers.

RW: What initiatives are currently on the NATE agenda that readers would be interested to learn about?
Schlekeway: Radio World readers need to know about the National Wireless Safety Alliance assessment and certification organization that is currently under development. A national assessment and certification organization has been needed in our industry for quite some time and this organization will have a positive, transformative impact from a safety and quality standpoint.

The NWSA organization is a byproduct of collaboration between a broad coalition of the industry’s leading subject matter experts, companies and stakeholders representing industry associations, wireless carriers, tower owners, OEMs, turnkey management firms, small contractors and tower climbers. It is the mission of the NWSA to provide thorough, independent assessments of knowledge and skills and provide verifiable worker certification in order to enhance safety, reduce workplace risk, improve quality, encourage training and recognize the skilled professionals who work on towers and other nonstandard structures.

The NWSA will standardize the assessment and certification process and provide a greater degree of confidence to the industry that an employee who is trained in Massachusetts and an employee trained in California (at the same level of worker category), are qualified to perform the scope of work required of them. Workers, regardless of their training pathway, will be required to take a standardized NWSA knowledge-based and field-based assessment. An NWSA certification card will be a source of pride for industry workers and will ultimately raise the bar on safety and quality.

RW: NATE’s STAR program has been a high-profile effort over the last year.
Schlekeway: The NATE STAR Initiative is the association’s signature program designed to help companies operate safely and recognize tower contractors, tower owners and carriers who voluntarily adhere to higher safety standards. The site safety audits and program documentation requirements have served to allow participants to proactively identify and correct hundreds of job site hazards and deficiencies. These results have allowed NATE to extrapolate valuable benchmarks and tangible data from the program, while demonstrating compelling evidence that STAR member companies are leading the charge in terms of making our industry safer.

The application process for the NATE STAR Initiative recently began for the 2015–16 enrollment period. This year, we are excited to announce that the program will be unveiling an exciting new STAR Initiative app designed to enhance the participant experience and provide a convenient means of submitting Site Safety Audit documentation in real-time directly from the field via a smartphone, tablet computer or other mobile devices. The official NATE STAR Initiative app will be available for the launch of the 2015–2016 program as a free download in both iOS and Android platforms and will be smartphone and tablet compatible.

RW: How are plans progressing for NATE UNITE 2016?
Schlekeway: NATE UNITE 2016 will be held in New Orleans, Feb. 22–25, 2016. NATE UNITE continues to grow in size and scope every year, and we are very excited at how plans are progressing for 2016.

We will be making a major NATE UNITE 2016 announcement very soon that highlights a partnership we have brokered with an organization that is associated with a major national brand. I can’t say anymore at this point but this partnership will add the “Wow!” factor to NATE UNITE 2016 and help drive excitement and attendance. NATE’s Trade Show Committee is also currently in the process of finalizing the educational sessions and training courses that will be offered at the conference.

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