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Tag Archives: National Association of Tower Erectors

NWSA Takes Deliberate, Disciplined Approach to Climber Certification

By J. Sharpe Smith, Senior Editor

No one should forget the years 2013 and 2014 when the tower industry had 25 climbers die on the job. One group that never will is the National Wireless Safety Alliance, (NWSA), a 501 c-6 non-profit organization, which turned three years old this month, having been incorporated Feb. 2, 2015.

The group was formed to perform “assessments of knowledge and skills and provide verifiable worker certification,” according to its mission statement.  As a result of these certifications, the organization hopes to reduce workplace risk and improve the quality of the work performed on towers and communications network infrastructure.

Educational Session 17 at NATE UNITE will address the origins of NWSA, its processes and potential to save lives in the future at 10:30 am, Feb. 21, in Nashville.

In the first two years of its existence, NWSA spent time organizing committees and the developing the Telecommunications Tower Technician (TTT) 1 and 2 certifications. In the last year, hundreds of industry professionals have taken the written and practical exams, and the NWSA has been busy developing the Telecommunications Tower Foreman certificate.

Contractor safety is big part of Brian Wiedower’s job at Sprint. He is on the NWSA Board of Governors, “We put a big focus on partnering with contractors that have a good track record,” he said. “These certifications are very good for us because they tell us that a vendor has their employees certified in an agreed upon format so we know what we are getting. That means reduced risk for us.”

Kevin Schmidt, a tower technician for Sioux Falls Tower and Communications and also member of the Board of Governors, said certification would be a plus for a potential hire, but the company is happy to train and have NWSA certify its new employees, because “it’s the right thing to do.”

“Our involvement in the NWSA is to try to keep the tower industry as safe as possible,” Schmidt said. “Our goal is to keep every one of the employees that climbs these towers on a daily basis as safe as possible.”

Beyond carriers and tower service companies, the NWSA maintains a Board of Governors that spans broadcasters, educational institutions, consultants, equipment distributors, engineers, government agencies, insurance companies, small, medium and large contractors, the legal community, OEMs, and utilities.

“A very broad cross section is necessary for our Board of Governors,” NWSA President Duane MacEntee said. “When you think about the needs of our industry for qualified workers to do their jobs, this broad-based industry body will steer NWSA to meet the needs for future workforce development.”

The certification tests are developed through a task force, which is even broader than the Board of Governors in many respects. It is a painstaking process. The task force for the development of the Telecommunications Tower Foreman credential currently underway consists of 30 to 40 subject matter experts (SMEs) that meet every six to seven weeks in Dallas. These SMEs define the specifications are the ones that do the work, do the training or have received training. The process takes 18 months on the average.

“This is the first time this industry has put a stake in the ground and said it wants an independent certification that is portable and nationally recognized for whatever level of workforce that is needed,” MacEntee said. “We want to be disciplined and deliberate. It is a fast-paced industry that we are a part of and we have to get it right.”

The tests that are given to the tower climbers must be developed in an independent manner and NWSA will itself go through an independent accreditation process with ANSI in the next 18 months.

“We support the efforts people getting proper training and employers that pursue valid training pathways, such as TIRAP for example, but we have to remain at somewhat of an arms-length from those groups so that we are unbiased and independent,” MacEntee said. “It maintains the integrity of the certification, which must be developed in the way that there is no favor given to any certain pathway of training.”

NWSA seeks to set a universal standard for competence in an industry where there is a certificate for everything and many of them are from sources that have a vested interest in having people holding those certificates.

“We are totally independent. We don’t do any training or endorse any certain training path,” MacEntee said. “We take what the industry tells us are the specifications for that qualification and we design a statistically valid testing instrument that allows us to produce an independent certification examination process.”

The initiative to have certified climbers was not mandated by government. It is a grassroots effort. As a matter of course, a big goal of NWSA’s is to have the carriers require tower contractors to use certified climbers when completing work on their antennas and other equipment. MacEntee hopes that carrier contracts in 2019 will require tower service companies to use NWSA-certified climbers.

J. Sharpe Smith
Senior Editor/eDigest
J. Sharpe Smith joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence. Sharpe Smith may be contacted at: [email protected]

NATE Announces 2018 Rigger Awareness Training Dates and Locations

The National Association of Tower Erectors has announced the dates and locations for the 2018 Rigger Awareness Training Courses. Rigger awareness training courses will be hosted nationwide in 2018 and will be offered free of charge to attendees due to a Susan Harwood Training Grant (SH-31235-SH7) from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor.

Throughout 2018, NATE is planning to host these complimentary, grant-enabled training sessions in Hartford, Connecticut; Nashville, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Eagan, Minnesota; Los Angeles, California; Portland, Oregon; Malvern, Pennsylvania; Charlotte, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; Lakewood, Colorado and Irving, Texas. SEE DATES BELOW

The industry-specific Rigger Awareness Course curriculum will be focused on introducing workers and employers to rigging terminology, rigging equipment and proper use, rigging inspections, rigging related hazards, crane signals and industry reference materials/standards. The training is organized into six sections that include the following subject topics:

Section 1: Introduction to NATE and OSHA
Section 2: State of the Industry
Section 3: Construction Planning, Stakeholders and Resources
Section 4: Anatomy of a Rigging Plan
Section 5: Lift Systems, Forces and Equipment Components
Section 6: Executing the Rigging Plan

The training will also include information regarding employee and employer rights and responsibilities under the OSH Act of 1970, whistleblower complaint procedures and protection provisions.

“Rigging is an essential element of communication tower work, yet deficiencies still exist when it comes to the use of proper rigging procedures at tower sites,” stated NATE Curriculum Development Committee Member Richard Cullum from Crown Castle. “The Rigger Awareness Training Program presents a practical application of the rigging requirements that we believe will have a significant positive impact on worker safety and quality,” added Cullum.

“I would encourage all industry employees and employers interested in participating in the Rigger Awareness Training sessions to register soon as interest in the program is in high demand,” said NATE Curriculum Development Committee Member Justin Huggins from Enertech Resources, LLC.

Interested participants should complete the accompanying Rigger Awareness registration forms for the training location in their region on the Association’s 2018 Worker Training Course website page.


Rigger Awareness Training Course
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST
Marriott Hartford/Windsor Airport
28 Day Hill Road
Windsor, Connecticut 06095
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Monday, February 19, 2018
10:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CST
Gaylord Opryland Resort
2800 Opryland Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37214
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Thursday, March 22, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST
Vertical Limit Construction
915 Blue Gentian Road
Eagan, Minnesota 55121
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. PST
J.W. Marriott at LA Live
900 West Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90015
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. PST
Sheraton Portland Airport
8235 NE Airport Way
Portland, Oregon 97220
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Thursday, May 10, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST
Penn State Great Valley
30 E Swedesford Road
Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST
Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte Uptown
508 E MLK Jr Blvd
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
June 2018
Orlando, Florida
Registration Information Coming Soon
Rigger Awareness Training Course
July 2018
Louisville, Kentucky
Registration Information Coming Soon
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Thursday, August 16, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST
Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
400 Renaissance Drive
Detroit, Michigan 48243
Registration Open
Rigger Awareness Training Course
Thursday, August 23, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. MST
Holiday Inn Lakewood
7390 W Hampden Ave
Lakewood, Colorado 80227Registration Open

Rigger Awareness Training Course

Wednesday, September 12, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST
Double Tree DFW Airport North
4441 W John Carpenter Freeway
Irving, TX 75063Registration Open

NATE Elects 2018 Board of Directors

The National Association of Tower Erectors has released the results of the 2018 Board of Directors election. The Association announced that candidates Kevin Dougherty, president of MILLENNIA CONTRACTING, INC. in New Castle, Delaware; John Paul Jones, president of Tower & Turbine Technologies in Austin, Texas; Bryan Lee, president of Lee Antenna & Line Service, Inc. in Hellertown, Pennsylvania and Jimmy Miller, president of MillerCo, Inc. in Gulfport, Mississippi were re-elected and will retain their seats on the NATE Board of Directors.

Shama Ray, owner and CEO of Above All Tower Climbing in Bonne Terre, Missouri, was also elected to serve as a new member of the Board of Directors.

The five candidates who were elected by their industry peers will officially begin their two-year terms on February 17, 2018 at the NATE UNITE 2018 Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Association also acknowledges the contributions of retiring two-term Board Member Don Train, president of Train’s Towers in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. Train will be honored at the NATE UNITE 2018 Conference for his service.


NATE Highlights Remote Tower Access

By The Editors of AGL

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) has released a video on the topic of operating snow tracked vehicles to access tower sites in remote locations. The video, the latest to make its debut as part of Volume 2 of the NATE Climber Connection series, is designed to emphasize the exciting opportunities available in the industry for those workers who pursue a career as a tower technician. The video series is an integral component of the Association’s workforce development outreach to promote the profession and recruit new workers into the industry.

As the weather turns and snowfall is prevalent in certain regions of the country, the Remote Tower Access video provides a detailed overview on the planning practices, safety protocols and operational procedures associated with utilizing a snow tracked vehicle in difficult terrain environments and during inclement weather situations.

The video also includes real-time conversations between vehicle operators and tower technicians about the hazards that can exist when utilizing snowcat vehicles to access tower sites. Additionally, the video includes drone footage of snow tracked vehicles ascending the Cascade Mountains in Washington State on a snowy day.

“I love this video as it portrays the reality of some of the remote tower sites we work at,” said Matt Uhrich, Compliance and Safety Director at Legacy Telecommunications, Inc. in Burley, Washington.

“Seeing a snowcat vehicle ascend a snowy mountaintop is an awesome part of the job and this video reinforces that fact along with providing important planning and operational safety tips,” added Mat Johnson from Legacy Telecommunications, Inc.     “We are fortunate to work in such a dynamic profession.”

Click HERE to watch the Remote Tower Access safety video. NATE encourages tower climbers and all wireless and broadcast industry stakeholders to actively participate in this campaign by posting the Remote Tower Access video on their respective social networking platforms using the hashtag #ClimberConnection. NATE also encourages tower climbers to share their snow tracked vehicle operation and safety tips through social interaction on the Association’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The Climber Connection Volume 2 campaign was developed by the NATE Member Services Committee in conjunction with the NATE Safety & Education Committee and is designed to provide specific resources and communicate the Association’s message directly to the industry’s elevated workforce.

Visit HERE to access the A10.48 Standard, Broadcast Repack, UAS Operations, Riding the Line, Dig to Block Anchor Inspection and Stadium DAS videos that were previously released as part of the Volume 2 edition of the Climber Connection video series. For more information on NATE, visit www.natehome.com today.

NATE Wireless Industry Network to Host Atlantic Coast Regional Conference

By The Editors of AGL

(Watertown, SD) – National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) and the Wireless Industry Network (WIN) announced today that they will be hosting the Atlantic Coast Regional Conference on Thursday, November 2, 2017 at the Marriott Raleigh City Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. The conference will focus on key industry safety initiatives and offer tremendous networking and professional development opportunities for attendees.

“This event will offer great educational and networking opportunities as speakers from all facets of the wireless telecom ecosystem will present programs on cutting edge topics,” stated NATE WIN Director Scott Krouse. Presentations will include public safety and critical communications, women’s leadership roles in the wireless industry, National Wireless Safety Alliance and other topics yet to be announced.

NATE members and non-members alike are encouraged to attend this conference. The cost to attend the Atlantic Coast Regional Conference is $75 per person which will include a continental breakfast as well as lunch. Interested attendees are encouraged to register by completing the Registration Form on the NATE website. All completed registration forms and payments should be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to the NATE office (8 Second Street SE, Watertown, SD 57201) by the registration deadline of Friday, October 13, 2017.

Reserve your room at the Marriott Raleigh City Center before Tuesday, October 10, 2017 to receive the special group rate of $184 + tax. The group rate is only valid for Wednesday, November 1. You can make your reservation online by visitingHERE. Reservations can be made over the phone by calling 919-227-3893 and referencing the NATE WIN Atlantic Coast Regional Conference.