‘Cowboy’ Mentality Detrimental to Industry

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The 2015 American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exposition was held last week in Salt Lake City, Utah, and tower safety was a big topic. Yesterday, Inside Towers reported that the topic of temporary tower climbers and who is responsible for their actions was discussed at the conference. The topic of training and standards in a “nearly unregulated” industry was discussed as well. The Occupational Health & Safety blog reported that Thomas P. Fuller, ScD, CIH, associate professor in Illinois State University’s Safety Program spoke about the industry. Fuller has interviewed with supervisors and workers who climb communication towers, has taken a training course for tower climbers, and, with assistance from Patrick Schmidt, a sophomore in the program, has analyzed tower worker fatality reports from 2002 to 2014, according to the blog. “It is a tight-knit profession where many climbers evidence a ‘cowboy’ mentality, Fuller said, adding that tower maintenance work is ‘nearly unregulated in numerous aspects,’ with a low bar for workers to enter it and earn high pay,” according to the blog. “OSHA’s inspections have focused on tower construction rather than maintenance, he said, maintaining that this approach is wrong because 80 percent of the climbers killed during 2002-2014 were engaged in equipment installation, maintenance, or repair work when they died—not in tower construction. And 66 percent of the fatalities were caused by not using or wearing fall protection equipment properly, Fuller added, calling it one of the most hazardous U.S. industries.” OSHA has made an effort to learn more about the intricacies of tower workers, and their Request for Information about the industry is still open until June 15.

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