NATE Webinar Gets Industry in Gear for New Year Safety Regs

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New federal tower safety standards go into effect January 1, 2017. Subject matter experts discussed the changes from a construction, maintenance and engineering standpoint in a NATE and Fisher & Phillips webinar on Monday.

Through a joint effort led by NATE, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE); along with other key industry organizations and companies supported by NATE, the telecommunications industry has proactively responded to shifts in construction practices driven by evolving technology advancements and infrastructure demands related to construction, installation, alteration, and maintenance activities on telecom towers to progress and facilitate quality work while ensuring the safest work practices.

Two results of these efforts are the introduction of the ANSI/ASSE A10.48 Standard Criteria for Safety Practices with the Construction, Demolition, Modification and Maintenance of Communication Structures and the ANSI/TIA-322 Standard Loading, Analysis, and Design Criteria Related to the Installation, Alteration and Maintenance of Communication Structures. Together, these will replace the existing ANSI/TIA 1019-A Standard on January 1 as the national consensus standards related to communications tower construction planning and implementation. 

“Planning is essential,” said Don Doty, Regulatory Compliance Advisor for civil engineering firm Velocitel. “Site conditions may be different from the plan,” so a safety, emergency information, rescue plan and training are needed for any tower work.

Imposed construction loads affect the strength of the structure. Removal of structural members or activities reducing the supporting structure strength need to be part of the rigging plan, he said.

Anchors must be installed for fall protection prior to tower installation; a company must designate a competent climber and rescuer for each job, Doty said.

Gordon Lyman, President/CEO of web-based telecom training firm eSystem Training Solutions, says gin poles used for lifting must be inspected assembled for every job. The new standards clarify a ladder cage is not fall protection, he said.

Companies must apply for OSHA permits before a tower is demolished and a condition assessment must be performed. “Are you taking it down because it can’t handle new loads or is it a rusting nightmare?” Doty asked rhetorically. A demo plan must include protecting nearby structures and cover overhead and underground issues. “Bringing a tower down is not like erecting one in reverse,” said Doty.

NATE will have a copy of the webinar on its website. Those who wish to purchase a copy of the new standards can do so from NATE.

November 15, 2016

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