Importance of Contractor Vetting in Communication Tower Safety

Importance of Contractor Vetting in Communication Tower Safety

12th November 2020

Common risks and hazards of communication tower projects include struck-by hazards, structural collapses, falls, and hoisting and rigging practices. For so many years now, there has been conflicting information about who should be responsible for employees’ safety in such environments, especially if multiple contractor layers are involved. This article contains what you need to know about contractor vetting as an important tool to establish and maintain communication tower safety. It defines the strategies that the tower owners and carriers need to consider to ensure the safety of all the contractors and the workers. It’s important to ensure the availability of proper access tools such as step units to enhance the safety of your contractors and workers when walking or working.

Multilevel Contractor Safety

For most towers owned and managed by carriers, the employer has a direct line of responsibility to the workers. Unfortunately, this may not apply to the construction tower industry. Normally, these towers are constructed by contractors and owned by corporations not involving the carriers. The carriers have to use turf vendors for contracts to install and maintain their equipment on the towers. The carriers would then employ contractors of their own to conduct the project. In addition, these contractors may proceed to hire subcontractors, making the responsibility for employee safety diffuse and even unclear.

Experts recommend that specific personnel be given the responsibility to coordinate health and safety all along the contracting chain. The personnel need to have an experienced advisor or direct personal experience with the project. In your health and safety program, you need to have concrete consequences (including suspension and termination of the contract) for contractors and subcontractors who fail to comply with the appropriate safety measures. It should delineate, clearly, the roles and responsibilities of all the parties in ensuring the health and safety of your employees. It should also contain provisions for regular reviews of contractor health and safety programs.

Contractor Vetting and Verification of Individual Workers

Vetting is crucial to ensure only the candidates who are qualified to perform the job safely are hired. This is important due to the need to ensure the safety of workers hired by subcontractors of contractors working for a communication tower company you’ve directly contracted with. You may visit appropriate health and safety bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for recommendations on vetting contractors and verification of individual workers. The tower owners and carriers can take the following steps when vetting contractors and subcontractors prior to hiring:

  • Request written approval in prior for any subcontracting.

  • Request the contractors’ previous safety record in consideration for future contracts.

  • Request the contractors to provide access to appropriate certification and training records for all the workers they hire.

  • Institute third-party workplace audits to inspect whether your contractors are complying with the appropriate health and safety measures.

  • Require ongoing evaluation and monitoring the safety records of your contractors, including HSE records.

  • Introduce stop-work authority for all workers in the contracting chain whenever unsafe conditions are discovered in the workplace. At no point should the contractors allow for reprisals and repercussions for any safety threat.