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NATE Chairman's Message Following Frontline Segment

May 23, 2012

Message from Jim Coleman, NATE Chairman:

As the wireless industry continues to digest and discuss what appeared in the PBS Frontline segment and related ProPublica articles, I wanted to share some much needed perspective. While there were relevant concerns about safety levied in this investigative series, from NATE’s viewpoint, one fatality or accident is one too many.  

There remains much work to be done across the industry - - by NATE, mobile operators and broadcasters, general contractors and tower contractors to government agencies and individual tower climbers. In particular, we have outlined five things needed to drive change and ensure safety and quality with elevated work, including:

  •          Eliminate use of unskilled and untrained workers on job sites;
  •          Improve existing workforce with additional effective training practices;
  •          Eliminate the unrealistic deadlines for elevated work forced by service providers and general contractors;
  •          Enforce contract requirements for hiring qualified contractors; and
  •          Encourage more consistent enforcement of the multi-employer worksite situations.

To date in 2012, there have been no cell tower related fatalities, and cell tower deaths in recent years have declined despite the increase in workload and workforce size. But safety advocacy is an ongoing effort that must be repeated early in employment and often to ensure safety training is a never-ending cycle. The extra efforts NATE members take each day to instill safety and quality in their work and workforce continue to serve as the benchmark. NATE has developed and revolutionized safety education tools and resources on the leading edge of safety awareness for the tower. These safety education tools and resources can be found within the NATE website.

It is our hope that this sort of dialogue will help spark change that benefits everyone and achieves a total culture of safety. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that every tower hand goes home safely each night.