By Benjamin Horvath
Inside Towers Special Correspondent
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the Indiana Wireless Association’s 2016 Summer Newsletter. The IWA is committed to providing an industry voice for wireless companies across the Hoosier state.
Most tower climbers go through annual training so that they’re familiar with the requisite skills needed for their occupation, one that is potentially lethal if safety precautions are not taken. And while this regular training is oftentimes sufficient education for climbers, it’s still important for voices in the industry to consistently reinforce best safety practices and tips. With the explosion of new mediums of information (social media being the most prominent), there are now more ways than ever to capture climbers’ attentions.
NATE’s 2016 #ClimberConnection campaign is doing precisely that—engaging climbers and others in the industry using devices we operate daily.
The #ClimberConnection campaign is a series of safety videos that are released the first of each month through NATE’s social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Tumblr. Each video focuses on a different safety issue. For example, featured topics to this point include capstan hoist & safety rigging, proper tie-off technique and professionalism in the workplace and on-site.
“The campaign has been gaining a lot of traction,” said NATE’s Executive Director Todd Schlekeway. “We’re trying to get to those forums where climbers are most present, because if you don’t have people reading it then it’s falling on deaf ears.”
NATE’s safety and education committee began working on this project last fall when members whittled down the number of safety topics to twelve by choosing those they felt were most pertinent. Because of the huge list the committee developed prior to narrowing it to twelve, Schlekeway said he sees NATE continuing the program in subsequent years.
“The big thing we asked ourselves is ‘how do you stop at just 12?” Schlekeway asked rhetorically. “I don’t think you can, so now we have momentum going forward into future years.”
Before filming the videos, Schlekeway, alongside members of the safety and education committee, wrote each video’s script. This process, Schlekeway said, was the most difficult due to the technical nature of featured topics.
“For a three to five minute video, you have to stay fairly high-level with your tips and references in the video,” Schlekeway said. “This made the script writing key and no small feat given their short length.”
Over a two-day period, with the help of a video production company, each safety video was filmed at tower sites in the Sioux Falls area, where NATE’s headquarters are located. Perhaps the most captivating feature of the videos is the soaring camera angles, which were captured using drone technology.
“The drone footage really pulls people in,” Schlekeway noted. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive comments from that.”
Overall, Schlekeway said the organization has gotten “overwhelmingly” positive reviews regarding the campaign so far. One of the great features of social media, Schlekeway said, is that individuals can provide quick feedback in response to featured content.
“Some of the comments have pointed out something they didn’t agree with, but it’s been overwhelmingly positive through the first four months of videos we’ve been doing.”
While he hopes climbers take away several pieces of information from the videos, if nothing else Schlekeway said he said he wants the videos to advance the overall mission of NATE: that it is an organization committed to climber safety and is a resource provided for climbers across the industry and nation.
“The industry is not dangerous if protocol is followed, and if climbers use equipment properly. We want to drive home that NATE is here, NATE cares and NATE has those resources to make sure climbers return home every night safety and produce quality work on site.”