National Wireless Safety Alliance developing national certification programs for tower and installation safety

The National Wireless Safety Alliance (NWSA) announced this week that it has entered into a partnership with the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) for the development and administration of safety certification programs. The goal of the organizations is to have nationally accredited certifications for tower technicians available sometime in 2016.

The NWSA was founded in March and its goal is to provide "thorough, independent assessments of knowledge and skills and provide verifiable worker certification in order to enhance tower safety, reduce workplace risk, improve quality, encourage training and recognize the skilled professionals who work on towers." The organization sees certified safety training as a major means of ensuring high, uniform safety standards.

The NWSA is the fruit of a two-year effort by the Wireless Industry Safety Task Force. The task force had participation from carrier safety and operations executives as well as officials from tower companies, OEMs and construction companies. The organization is independent, but the National Association of Tower Erectors played a role in the launch of the NWSA.

The NCCCO was founded in 1995 and it has been providing national assessment and certification programs for workers who work in and around cranes. The organization is also providing consulting work to NWSA as that organization tries to develop worker certification programs to the ANSI/ISO 17024 accreditation standard, which is the premier accreditation for personnel certification bodies.

The partnership provides a co-branding agreement for NWSA to offer Certified Crane Operator Signalperson and Rigger certification programs, which are slated to begin in the fall of 2015. This will mark the first official certification program offered by NWSA to the telecommunications industry.

The NWSA is also planning to launch two different levels of tower technician certification programs. Other certification programs for technicians and installers are also under consideration, including programs related to the installation of equipment related to fiber-to-the-premises, small cells, broadcast structures, distributed antenna systems and antenna deployments.

The FCC has been increasing pressure on tower companies to enhance safety, particularly among tower climbers. On June 15, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) closed a request for information concerning tower safety. This month, OSHA is expected to update its communications tower directive, which will provide guidance on the proper use of systems meant to move workers up and down towers.

For more:
- see this release

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