Here’s the truth about the climbing industry. The carriers are protected by layers of subcontracting, and there is very little consistency in safety and training regulations across states. Climbers are often at the mercy of state legislation, carriers, subcontractors, all of whom are difficult to hold accountable.
OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has guidance for safety, but has little power to enforce rules.
Another key issue is unionization, with the Bureau of Labor statistics reporting union representation of telecom workers at around 15.4%. For comparison, local government employees enjoy 41.7% representation.
telco workers represented by union
But tower climbers represent an even smaller number within that 15.4%. Unions tend to be reticent to represent small groups of climbers, who are spread throughout hundreds of small companies, giving them very little hope for collective bargaining.
Instead of a single company having control and responsibility for worker safety and tower integrity, employer responsibilities can be spread over hundreds of small employers.
-FCC/OSHA Joint Manual on Communication Tower Best Practices
Want to help?
So what can we do now? We can effect change as a community, in ways big or small!
Below few ways you can participate in the Movement.
We're always looking for new ways to collaborate, so please feel free to reach out with suggestions/contacts of your own.
While the general public assumes that their cell service is entirelyprovided by big brand carriers, the truth is more complex. The infrastructure that these carriers rely on and monetize, is in fact built by a long line of subcontractors.
This lessens the risk for carriers, and also builds a buffer of accountability, letting climbers and sub-contractors bear the financial and physical risk of building these networks.
(AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) All entities that provide some form of telecommunication services (fixed and/or mobile; voice and/or data) as their primary business to all or a subset of consumers, enterprises, governments and other telecom service providers.
SITE ACQUISITION COMPANY
These are responsible for coordinating telecommunications site acquisition and leasing activities on behalf of their organization. They are in charge of completing site candidate identification packages, as well as lease and zoning audits.
Typically large construction management firms such as General Dynamics, Bechtel and Nsoro – Oversee batches of tower projects, subcontracting out the climbing work to smaller companies.
(ATC, Crown, SBA, etc...) Companies operating as a real estate investment trust and an owner and operator of wireless and broadcast communications infrastructure solutions.
Builds foundations, roads, tearing down trees, does electrical, fiber. Trenching. Put in conduit.
STACK & STEEL CO.
Banded on 18 wheeler, they built the actual tower. Stack the steel like an erector set and put it together.
TOWER CLIMBER CO.
Build mounts, radios, antennas, hired by general contracting companies in some cases, and in some cases are directly working with the carrier.
HOW CAN YOU HELP ?
Tell A Friend!
Tell a friend. Now that you’re aware that tower climbers are providing you with modern conveniences that you depend on, share that with others. Explain that they do this thankless job for little pay and there are no standardized regulations in place to keep them safe.
We can assure you that while you’re sporting a HIGH tee/hoodie, someone will ask you what HIGH means, granting you an opportunity to talk about these brave men and women. All proceeds benefit the movement, and organizations supporting climbers and their families.
Not sure of your congressional district or who your member is? This service will assist you by matching your ZIP code to your congressional district, with links to your member's website and contact page.