WASHINGTON, DC — The upcoming repacking of TV stations and the subsequent auction of spectrum has the potential for creating an historic demand on the tower industry, particularly on tower climbers. And that’s cause for a stepped-up concern for safety.
The FCC and the Department of Labor have joined forces to reduce communications tower-related fatalities and injuries. Yesterday, the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) hosting a workshop on tower climber safety and Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) at FCC’s Washington headquarters that featured a virtual Who’s Who in the tower industry.
By FCC estimates, as many as 90 industry movers-and-shakers took part in the workshop.
The four-hour morning event opened with remarks from Roger Sherman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, FCC; Eric M. Seleznow, Deputy Assistant Secretary, DOL; Matthew Colangelo, Chief of Staff, DOL, and Tom Wheeler Chairman, FCC. A panel discussion featuring Angela Jones of Union Wireless, Don Doty, National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), Jason Becker, National Radio Operations Branch, BLM, John Parham, Jacobs Engineering Group, Kevin Schmidt, National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA), and Wade Sarver, Wade4Wireless.com addressed FCC/DOL Guidance on Best Practices for Improving Safety. A second discussion followed the comments received in response to OSHA’s request for information on tower safety that included such industry voices as Richard Cullum of Crown Castle and Nick Vespa of Southeastern Towers on the panel. Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) and Telecommunications Workforce Development was the topic of a third panel that included Dave Anthony with Shenandoah Tower, Chase Hammock, TIRAP Apprentice, MUTI/Sabre Industries, David Sams, SBA Communications, Laurie Gebhardt, Verizon Wireless, along with former FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, now head of the PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association.