It has always been the secret driveway, the secluded mountain top road, or something in between, hidden at times behind rows of corn, but the looming steel structures rising across the landscape are never mistaken. Now as traditional tower attachments and antenna array technology advances, we find the industry working in very non-traditional places. As we strive to keep up with the challenges of finding real estate for small cells and associated Distributed Antenna System (DAS) equipment we must ensure we are up for more challenges; educating our workforce on safety rules and regulations that have not typically been in our view.
To maintain focus at 300 feet while completing an equipment swap may only require a small team of highly qualified individuals and equipment inspected onsite. It is another burden altogether to ensure your safety with the addition of pedestrians or motor vehicles both fully distracted on the devices you’re attempting to make faster!
To this end, we are now wholly involved within the confines of sprawling metro areas, our tools and our presence broadens our scope from tower hand to utility worker. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is different, Bucket trucks, aerial lifts or ladders will provide us the means to reach equipment, Work Zone Protection (motor vehicle and pedestrian) must be considered, electric transmission and/or distribution lines maybe with our space; are your people properly trained?
Your written Safety Programs must be robust enough to protect our workforce and hold up to the scrutiny of regulating bodies, least of which may be Federal or State OSHA due to our increased roadside visibility. As contractors working in the utility Right-of-Way (ROW), State and local Department of Transportation (DOT) Permits, the Master Lease Agreement (MLA) owner, Municipal governance, and depending on jurisdiction local Law Enforcement could all play into your new role as communication provider.
By George Kerstetter CUSP (Chair NATE Small Cell / DAS Committee)