OSHA Compliance

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Tower climbing

According to Wireless Estimator there have been five deaths so far in 2011 as a result of climbing communications towers. Two of the reported fatalities were the result of a rigging failure with a gin pole during the construction of a 500' broadcast tower in Indiana.

This is perhaps why tower climbing is ranked among the most dangerous jobs in the United States. OSHA addresses the issue of fall protection under OSHA Fall Protection Code 1910.66 App C, which outlines the compliance of fall protection requirements for climbers on communications towers and other structures. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has developed a more comprehensive standard that incorporates all of the requirements in the OSHA regulation and clearly defines issues generally not fully defined within OSHA law, such as hazard analysis, rescue plans, and anchorage requirements for fall restraint systems and work positioning systems. This is known as ANSI Z359.2 and is the generally accepted standard most tower climber training and safety programs utilize. All personnel climbing towers should be certified by a recognized certification organization such as NATE or Comtrain. Always ask to see proof of certification (typically called a climb card).

Hearing protection

Many on-air personalities have mild to severe hearing loss as a result of spending their shift with monitors and headphones cranked. OSHA specifies the maximum amount of sound exposure in CFR 1910.95.

According to the rule: When employees are subjected to sound exceeding those listed in Table G-16, feasible administrative or engineering controls shall be utilized. If such controls fail to reduce sound levels within the levels of Table G-16, personal protective equipment shall be provided and used to reduce sound levels within the levels of the table.

Duration per day (hours)Sound level (in dB A weight, slow response)
0.25 or less115
Table 1. Permissible noise exposure as per OSHA Table G-16. Exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed 140dB peak SPL.

You can find the entire text of this OSHA regulation at www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9735.

It might make sense to measure the maximum sound levels from studio monitors and headphones, then lock-down the power amplifiers to the prescribed limits.

There are several more areas that are regulated by OSHA and/or your local state such as the use of personal protective equipment, non-ionizing radiation, exposure to computer monitors and hazard communication to name a few. There are several good evaluation tools that can be searched online to help identify your risks and put together a good workplace compliance program.

McNamara is president of Applied Wireless, Cape Coral, FL.

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