NATE launches tower-hazard-recognition tutorial
The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has launched a tutorial on its Web site that was developed to educate project managers, site superintendents and other on-site personnel to help them better recognize hazardous situations at broadcast and communications tower sites. One does not have to be a NATE member to access the tutorial, but registration is required.
Topics covered by the tutorial include the following:
- Job-site documentation,
- Job-site conditions,
- Personal-protection equipment,
- Fall-protection equipment,
- RF-radiation hazard,
- Personnel lifting,
- Rigging and blocks,
- Gin poles, and
NATE long has worked to promote tower safety. Two years ago, it updated its recommended procedures in order to create what it described as a “culture of safety.” The effort was targeted to both climbers and tower owners and operators, to encourage climbers to be more responsible and to follow best practices, and to discourage owners and operators from hiring inexperienced or unqualified climbers as a way of reducing costs.
Last year, NATE revised its tower climber fall-protection training standards to bring them more in line with the American National Standards Institute’s Z359 standards, which NATE officials believed did a better job of defining what constitutes a competent climber.
However, too often NATE’s messages got lost in translation, which necessitated the creation of the tutorial that was debuted last week at the association’s annual conference in Orlando, Fla., said Jim Coleman, chairman of NATE’s board of directors and the chairman of Southern Broadcast Services in Pelham, Ala.
“The difficulty sometimes is that we were saying one thing and they were thinking another,” Coleman said. “Just the vernacular, the words, the definitions — they didn’t co-relate very well. There were times they didn’t understand what we were saying or what our requirements are.”
Coleman believes the tutorial will give NATE an opportunity to engage in much deeper conversations with tower owners and operators about what it means to keep the tower site safe and — more importantly — how to accomplish the goal.
“They want to do a good job, and they’re sending construction managers out to the site. They want these managers to ensure that the people working on the site are doing a good job [regarding safety],” he said. “But they’re just not sure what they’re supposed to be doing. There’s more to it than saying, ‘Go out there and make sure it’s safe.’”
According to Kevin Hayden, NATE’s chairman of industry relations and owner of Hayden Tower Service, in Topeka, Kan., tower safety requires a continuous effort on the part of everyone in the food chain — from the CEO down to the climbers — and the better educated everyone is, the more adept they will be in terms of recognizing potentially dangerous situations, knowing how to mitigate them and, ideally, preventing them. This in turn will improve dramatically the prospects for maintaining a safe environment, particularly when a project is experiencing a time crunch, Hayden said.
“When people get in a hurry, it’s like when you drive — you might not always put your seat belt on,” Hayden said. “So, we’re trying to raise the level of education in the field.”
He added, however, that information being presented isn’t blazing any new trails in tower safety. Rather, the effort is about getting everyone on the same page concerning best practices and relevant terminology.
“The trailblazing part of this is that NATE in the past has concentrated on the tower climbers who are doing the work,” Hayden said. “Now we’re trying to get everyone else involved.”
Like most things in life, tower safety has to be practiced every day in order to do it well. That’s why Hayden is a staunch believer in daily “tailgating” sessions during which climbers and their supervisors discuss what needs to be done that day and the conditions under which those tasks will be executed.
“Why do we have daily tailgate meetings when the climbers you’re talking to that day have been trained on those subjects? It’s because safety requires a constant reminder to take your time, do things right, and everyone will go home safe at night.”