Explosive growth in wireless communications and data consumption over the course of the last several years has sparked a significant spike in communication tower industry work. Communication tower contractors and the tower technicians they employ continue to be the "central nervous system" of the wireless and broadcast infrastructure industries. The network installations and broadband deployments they perform on a daily basis are having a transformational impact on industries as diverse as health care, financial services, higher education, agriculture, energy, aviation, utilities, public safety, government and the military.
This enhanced technology is vital to meet both our present and future broadband needs and society's insatiable thirst for data. According to annual survey results released by CTIA – The Wireless Association, Americans used 9.6 trillion megabytes (MB) of data in 2015. This data usage is three times the 3.2 trillion MB of data utilized in 2013. The CTIA data compared this growth to the equivalent of consumers streaming 59,219 videos every minute or roughly 18 million MB!
This exponential growth, in turn, has produced safety and quality issues resulting in accidents and fatalities during the construction and maintenance of wireless sites. Most commonly, these accidents and fatalities are associated with fall hazards. According to the industry news website Wireless Estimator, the industry experienced ten fatalities in 2014, four fatalities in 2015 and seven fatalities in 2016. Additionally, fall protection safety violations also consistently land in the top 10 most frequent citations issued by Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) enforcement officials on an annual basis.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and OSHA have recognized this problem and collaborated to work with the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) and stakeholders from throughout the industry to help provide a safer working environment for the communication tower workforce.