New Braunfels, TX, May 31, 2023
According to a recent Wireless Estimator article released on May 18th, the industry is reporting its first fatal fall of a 33-year-old tower technician while working in Kansas. Although we don’t know the cause, as it is still under investigation, it is worth noting that the article mentions that the individual that fell was reportedly performing maintenance services near the top of the tower when inclement weather started rolling in. It later goes on to say that the individual was descending when he fell to his death. It is for this reason that we felt compelled to discuss this very important topic and address three key bullet points centered around staying safe in inclement weather.
REVIEW WORK CONDITIONS CONTINUALLY, ESPECIALLY AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH DAY
Quoting straight from the Ontivity Employee Safety & Health Program, “Each job foreman shall review work conditions at the beginning of each job to identify conditions or exposures that might result in injury to employees.” Later in the same section, it goes on to say that hazards to be identified during the Pre-Job Survey shall include changes in the weather. Weather is one of those things, depending on work location, that can change with little to no warning. As tower technicians working at height, it is your responsibility to report any signs of inclement weather to your foreman and make the appropriate call. Remember that you have a slight height advantage so use it to your benefit.
ALWAYS ABATE, NEVER ESCALATE
The abatement of hazards and potential hazards is part of our daily routine. We practice this skill regularly. And when we find ourselves facing situations well beyond the norm and far outside of the routine, we still need to exercise the muscle that we strengthen every day: hazard abatement. We never want to escalate the danger. This is especially true when the nature of the hazard involves inclement weather, which can behave unpredictably. At times, our instinct might be to “get it done,” whether that is getting the sector back on air or getting those last few close-out photos. This can often lead to making a bad situation even worse for everyone involved. Sometimes the best way to abate a hazard is to simply exercise your Stop Work Authority. Please remember that the reason Safety Is Our Core Value is to ensure that every one of you safely makes it home at the end of each day.
EXCERCISE STOP WORK AUTHORITY
As mentioned in the previous bullet point, sometimes the best way to abate a hazard is to exercise your Stop Work Authority. When an employee perceives conditions or behaviors that pose imminent danger to a person(s), equipment, or the environment he or she must immediately initiate a stop work intervention with the person(s) potentially at risk. If the supervisor is readily available and the affected person, equipment or environment is not in imminent danger, coordinate the stop work action through the supervisor on site. The stop-work action should clearly identify as a stop-work action initiated in a non-combative manner. This is ultimately to stop something bad from happening, allow for the proper notifications to be initiated, investigate the matter at hand, correct any issues, and then resume activities if safe to do so.
EXTRA SAFETY POINTS: The most common question we get when talking about inclement weather is focused on lightning and when to call it. According to the National Weather Service, lightning can travel 10 to 12 miles from a thunderstorm. This is often farther than the sound of thunder travels. That means that if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to a storm to be in danger of being struck by lightning. So, remember, when thunder roars, go indoors.
If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you taken care of.