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Winter 2009



National Association of Tower Erectors

It's Up To You Written by Shelley Seyler It is easy to overlook the hard work behind America’s broadcast and telecommunications towers. When listening to the radio, watching television and talking on the phone, we can thank those that are willing to climb these massive structures to maintain and construct the technology on which our country and the world rely.



The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) was founded in 1995 as a non-profit trade association, after a meeting of 62 companies in the industry came to an important consensus: they needed a unified voice to represent tower erection, service, and maintenance companies that would speak about issues particular to their industry. The most important of these issues was, and remains, safety. NATE strives “to educate the general public, applicable government agen-

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cies, and clients on continued progress toward safer standards within the industry.” Since its inception, the association has grown to include 560 companies across the country and the world, from the Bahamas to Canada, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, and Trinidad. Headquartered in Watertown, South Dakota, the association has seven employees in total to manage this vast organization As the Association vies to create

a culture of safety, “it is a job that is, frankly, never done,” said Patrick Howey, Executive Director of NATE.

Building a Culture of Safety Elevating the importance of safety above all else, NATE provides educational materials and opportunities to help their members operate as safely as possible. “Safety is a process and we encourage every company to get involved. We need the involvement of everyone in the industry to create a culture of safety,” said Howey. When they first began this process, the association turned to the Department of Labor to determine the greatest hazards facing those in the industry. They then developed the best practices to address those areas with the industry’s benchmark health and safety program, safety videos and safety manuals, relying on the expertise of dozens of men and women who spent their careers in the field. Knowing that safety is inherent to the value of each company, NATE has recently reached out not only to tower climbers themselves but also to others involved in the process, such as general contractors and anyone hiring the tower companies. NATE provides a qualified contractor’s evaluation checklist that allows the hiring company to ensure the tower workers will do the job professionally and safely. In order to truly achieve this culture of safety, NATE knows everyone involved in the process needs to be informed. “Everyone has to look at it from the standpoint that they won’t proceed in a way that’s unsafe,” said Howey. In order to operate safely, people must make behavioral changes. That means everyone in the industry must start thinking and operating along these lines.

Three-Pronged Approach One of the ways NATE achieves this high level of

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involvement with tower safety construction is by reaching out to their members through every medium: conferences, safety resources, and webinars to promote important practices such as tailgate sessions -- a meeting that happens every morning on site to go over safety instruction and procedures. NATE utilizes radio, magazines, and broadcasts to help promote education. NATE recently conducted another webinar featuring a public service announcement (PSA). The PSA was developed as one component of NATE’s Partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The NATE OSHA Partnership is another way to foster their culture of safety.

Other Avenues NATE also holds relationships with state and federal government officials that help them develop regulations that benefit the industry. They worked closely on the state level in North Carolina to help them develop their own tower safety standards, a process that took five years. They are also involved with a similar endeavor in Michigan. Two years down the road for the process in this state,



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our country and the economy.

NATE has worked closely with the officials through the approval process. NATE also serves on advisory committees and has worked closely with OSHA since the very beginning of the Association. NATE’s Tower Climber Fall Protection Training Standard (NATE CTS) was established to demonstrate the requirements to which all tower climbers should be trained. This 90-page document helps the industry better facilitate training and improve safety through educational objectives, learning conditions, and performance standards for every aspect of training. By bringing this consistency to the training process, the industry is assured that climbers are well-prepared, whether they were trained in house of via commercial training organizations.

Enjoying Vitality Throughout the United States alone, there are more than 200,000 towers, all requiring maintenance. Although Howey recognizes that “only time will tell,” when it comes to the future of the industry, even in today’s tough economic situation, the communication mediums that rely on towers are an intrinsic part of

“Right now we are very busy. Towers are a vital part of our nation from business to public safety, national security, etc. There is always more work to be done,” he added. With the June 2009 change for television broadcast from an analog signal to digital transmission, broadcast towers have been undergoing requisite upgrades. The world of cell phones and wireless services also rely on towers and require different services. With the constantly changing and improving technology, the construction, service and maintenance of towers is certain to continue. “The demand for wireless services is only increasing,” and that is not likely to change any time soon. Moving forward, NATE intends to continue to find new ways to deliver their message. “When it comes to tower safety, it’s up to you; top to bottom, beginning to end,” said Howey.


Established : 1995 Companies in Corp : 560 Staff : 6 US ExecutiveUS Journal Summer Edition 2008 | 5 | 5| 5 D evelopers Journal Winter Winter Edition 2009 Executive Journal Edition 2009

US Winter 2009


National Association of Tower Erectors 8 Second Street SE Watertown, South Dakota 57201 United States