Here is the new article going in the July / August issue of NATE’s “Tower Times”

Safety and Education

More standards….  Really….?

Stand by… These aren’t too bad.                  What they mean to us?

Here are a couple of new Emergency Standards up for us to review, do a bit of training on and incorporate into our company guidelines and our own NATE Accident Prevention, Safety and Health Program Guide.

  • Recently added National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)® 1670 Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents – 2014 edition, Tower Rescue
  • Recently updated American National Standard Institute (ANS) ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015,Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies
  • Revision updates also in process
    • Update Section 17 Emergency Response
      • Addition of “Rescue Guideline”
      • Addition of the reference to the ANSI Z308.1 Standard


Starting with the NFPA 1670 Technical Rescue standards addition of Tower Rescue.

I am currently a principle member on the NFPA 1670 committee and on the sub-committees for Rope Rescue and Tower Rescue.  This gives me a great opportunity to review some of the history and intent of this standard for our industry.


This standard is intended to give the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), Responding Emergency Services, the guidelines to establishing a “level of service” for a specific technical rescue situation.  There are three levels; Awareness, Operations and Technician.  As of the 2014 edition there are 13 different types of technical rescue situations defined in this standard.   The AHJ is tasked with completing a “risk assessment” for each type of technical rescue potential.  This is to determine a priority and level of service they are able to provide their tax paying public jurisdiction.


In this 2014 standard, Tower Rescue was added.  This addition is in response to the growing number of towers and potential rescue situations the community emergency services would be responsible for.  Additional pressure to the AHJ is the media.  Communication tower rescues are a big media event, bringing pressure to the rescue response teams and their training level.


This new addition to the emergency responders national standard has a direct impact on our telecommunication tower industry.   It is bringing an awareness of what is actually involved in “rescuing an ill, injured or post-fall victim” from a telecommunication tower.   It is a significant challenge and commitment for the thousands of emergency services response teams to be trained to conduct a rescue on a communications tower, especially ones over 300 feet (technician level).


Watch for more articles addressing the many challenges facing us, as trained climbers asked and tasked with conducting a rescue, and the community emergency services rescuers asked and tasked with climbing these structures safely to rescue a person in need.



As stated in several national standards referencing “Emergency Response” in the Telecommunication Tower Industry the employer shall establish and document procedures for rescue of employees in the event of an emergency.  Note that this new addition to the emergency services technical rescue standard NFPA 1670 does not imply, intend to, or take the place of, the responsibility of the employer to train their tower climbing employees in the knowledge and skills required to rescue a fellow climber in the event they become ill, injured or a post fall situation.  As stated, An employer who designates a third-party rescue and emergency service to provide elevated (high angle) rescue and emergency services if the employer were to designate a third party as their “rescue plan”, including 911, they must have a written, and signed document available for review. 

Assured, not many, if any, taxed based emergency services would NOT be allowed to sign such an agreement.  If “911” and / or a third party rescue team is documented as your “rescue plan”, please check and confirm the agreement is understood by all, legally correct, formally documented and the third party rescue team is adequately trained and equipped.


Next – What does the new ANSI Z308.1 standard mean to our industry?  Actually, a lot.  Finally, a decent medical kit guideline and standard directed to a “high risk workplace”.  For so long our industry has tried to interpret and incorporate an “OSHA approved” first aid kit to have on site when doing our job, climbing towers.  These initial required items in the “first aid kits” were very limited to say the least.  The old 50 band-aids to treat 50 injured workers was, essentially, very outdated and didn’t take into account the “higher risk workplaces”.  Finally, the ANSI Z308.1 – 2015 standard actually addresses our “high risk work environment” and now has a comprehensive, understandable and user friendly standard for us to train on and put into service.


At both the NATE 2015 and 2016 conferences I was honored to be a part of a panel discussion / presentation “Worse Case Scenario”.  This session was designed to initiate discussion and input on the evaluation, training, skills, techniques and emotional abilities asked of us in the event of a “worse case scenario” where we, as trained climbers are asked to rescue one “of us” from an “at height” situation.  What would you do?  It was a fantastic opportunity to be a part of and hear the many possible scenarios, thoughts, concerns and problem solving ideas the panel and audience discussed.  One common theme and question was “what medical care can we, should we, provide, for those needing medical attention and rescue when they are “at height” on a tower?

It worked out to be a great opportunity to bring up this new ANSI standard and discuss the items on the list and how they would work best in this “worse case scenario”.   Since then, we have worked with many medically trained emergency services, military medics, tower climbers and first aid training companies to compile a “High Risk First Aid Kit” specific to the tower climbing industry.   Basically it is divided into three “treatment” kits.  “At Height” – “On the Ground” – “Survival” concepts.  This will continue to be a work in progress for sure, however, by combining the input from all these great people and resources, we have a lot of information to compile and print into our updated NATE guidebook.


To obtain either or both of these new Standards refer to the below listed web sites.  Because NFPA and ANSI are “for profit” publishing organizations, we are not able to reproduce the actual standards.  Please feel “free” to pay the nominal cost it takes to actually own these published standards. It helps keep the intent and interpretations readily available as a resource.


Watch for the updated NATE Accident Prevention, Safety and Health Program Guide book where we will be explaining more details about these “kits” in the Emergency Response section.




Listed below is a basic explanation of a “First Aid Kit / Supplies” standard as per OSHA and ANSI.


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) medical services and first aid regulation, 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.151(b) states, “In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, or hospital in near proximity to the workplace which is used for the treatment of all injured employees, a person or persons shall be adequately trained to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available.”

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) American National Standard – Minimum Requirements for Workplace First Aid Kits and Supplies (ANSI/ISEA Z308.1-2015) establishes minimum performance requirements for first aid kits and their supplies. First aid kits are classified based on the assortment and quantity of first aid supplies intended to deal with most types of injuries and sudden illnesses that may be encountered in the workplace. These may include major and minor wounds; minor burns; sprains and strains; and eye injuries. As each work environment is unique, it is expected that the contents of each kit will be supplemented as needed based upon the recommendations of a person competent in first aid.