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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 12-04-2012, 7:47 AM
   
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Default Legalities when building a 150ft tower. Need HELP!

I work for a local WISP and my employer has recently built a 150ft guyed tower, assembled piece by piece, and guyed every 30ft. The base is concreted in a 6'x6'x6' form (it's not going anywhere). BTW, I was the one up on the tower assembling each section as it was raised up to me.
To start with, my job description has nothing to do with building towers, or digging a 6'x6'x6' hole in red-clay by hand, or climbing towers/replacing equipment on towers.
My employer has cut-corners regarding the cost of this project as much as possible. This company is small and being the only employee, I was required to assist my boss. The project has almost 2 wks total time invested, and as I am a low-salary paid employee, by employer came out basically just paying for materials.
I'd like to know what labor/safety/OSHA rules were side-stepped. I've never been 'trained' to climb towers. I don't have experience in assembling towers. It wasn't on my job description. And, I found that a tower construction crew of (4) normally makes $75/hr per person. Safety belts were used every time a climb was made, but I don't see how getting a novice involved in such a DANGEROUS project is legal. I've climbed as high as 325ft with this business. I know this is a special-skilled job because every person I tell what I do for work, says they would never risk their life climbing that high.
As a last note, my salary broke down is about $9/hr. Thanks in advance for any comments!
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Old 12-05-2012, 5:32 AM
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Contact a labor-law attorney and/or OSHA directly. No one else's advice would be worth anything.
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Old 12-05-2012, 6:24 AM
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Couldn't agree more with MIB. I am almost positive that your boss violated several laws, also may want to check what the states minimum wage law is also, if he's paying you less then the requirement he is also in violation of that. Also why would he need a 150ft tower if your the lone employee? Just curious about that. And also if you are in a flight path your boss must contact the FAA before hand and get approval.
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Old 12-05-2012, 8:44 AM
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Wow $9/hr to erect a 150' tower??? Time to look for another job. I would not waste my time for a pos like that. On a side note, I hope he has liabilty insurance for that tower...
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Old 12-05-2012, 5:38 PM
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You might also want to contact your city's building inspection department to make an inspection. Many cities require permits to install towers and limits on their locations, heights, etc. When they inspect the new installation, they'll require that all permits were gotten and codes followed. If there are violations, they'll need to be corrected for the tower to remain. There also may be fines for any failures to follow the correct proceedures.
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Old 12-05-2012, 5:46 PM
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What is the tower being used for? Do you know if he is licensed for any frequencies he may be using it for?
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Old 12-05-2012, 8:33 PM
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It's unbelievable that you were willing to climb the tower. Nobody forced you. If you felt forced "or else" lose your job and so you climbed anyway, you still shouldn't have considering your pay. It wasn't worth it.

I'm glad everything turned out alright and nobody was hurt in the process. If it were me I'd just refuse to do it again. Then again, I would have refused in the first place.

Going after your boss, after the fact, because you're PO'd that you didn't make $75/hr or risked your life for pennies on the dollar is silly.

You had the choice. You climbed the tower. Now you want to be childisth and retaliate against your boss?

I think it's time you just move on to another job and let your boss deal with anything he needs done in the future by himself.

It cracks me up how this day in age everybody wants to sue everyone. No wonder businesses can't make it. Everybody is out to file lawsuits or cause damage to companies.

Does the boss need to do things by the book? Yessir. But does every armchair lawyer out there need to advise everyone to sue first, think later?

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Old 12-05-2012, 9:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtindor View Post
It cracks me up how this day in age everybody wants to sue everyone. No wonder businesses can't make it. Everybody is out to file lawsuits or cause damage to companies.

Does the boss need to do things by the book? Yessir. But does every armchair lawyer out there need to advise everyone to sue first, think later?
I can't speak for others that responded, but my post wasn't aimed at getting back at the boss, but to make sure that the tower was safe and legal as installed.
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Old 12-05-2012, 9:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtindor View Post
It's unbelievable that you were willing to climb the tower. Nobody forced you. If you felt forced "or else" lose your job and so you climbed anyway, you still shouldn't have considering your pay. It wasn't worth it.

I'm glad everything turned out alright and nobody was hurt in the process. If it were me I'd just refuse to do it again. Then again, I would have refused in the first place.

Going after your boss, after the fact, because you're PO'd that you didn't make $75/hr or risked your life for pennies on the dollar is silly.

You had the choice. You climbed the tower. Now you want to be childisth and retaliate against your boss?

I think it's time you just move on to another job and let your boss deal with anything he needs done in the future by himself.

It cracks me up how this day in age everybody wants to sue everyone. No wonder businesses can't make it. Everybody is out to file lawsuits or cause damage to companies.

Does the boss need to do things by the book? Yessir. But does every armchair lawyer out there need to advise everyone to sue first, think later?

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Old 12-05-2012, 11:23 PM
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I say let the cards fall where they may. Find a new job, move on and call it a day. The only issue is if the tower does fail there could be legal issues, you are not a tower rigger, nor are you(assuming) trained to erect a tower. If my company asked me to erect a tower I actually have a legal obligation to refuse to do it. I am not trained for, nor is it part of my job.
While what is done is done, time to move forward and put this behind you. Learn OHSA rules/regs, and health and safety legislation rules/regs, comply with them and cya.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexkaczor
What is the tower being used for? Do you know if he is licensed for any frequencies he may be using it for?
WISP: Wireless Internet Service Provider
would be my guess. Here where I lve some companies use license free bands (900MHz, 2.4GHz or 5.7GHz) and only licensed spectrum for the microwave backhaul, others use only licensed spectrum
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:28 AM
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You may want to contact a local ham radio club for advice. Here is a place to start:

http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club

Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2012, 1:32 AM
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Daredevil84,
I've had jobs like this, and one thing I learned is that sometimes it's best just to walk away with the lessons learned.

As for the tower, that is the responsibility of the tower owner. The rules broken were likely OSHA and/or your state OSHA rules about using proper fall protection and safety gear. I don't believe there are any rules requiring you to have any specific training, although there should be. There are certainly industry guidelines, but there is no requirement for your employer to follow them. If you are really young, some states have laws about what minors can do for jobs.

A safety belt isn't enough. You should have had a full body harness that was rated for tower climbing. You should be doing 100% tie off. Proper person protective equipment should be used, helmet, gloves, etc. I am not a certified tower climber, but I just ordered all the equipment for myself and one of my guys. We will be taking one of the industry recognized courses. None of this stuff is cheap. Between the two of us I have about $3500 in equipment and I'll spend close to another $2000 on the training.

As for the actual tower, most city or county building codes require a properly trained engineer to sign off on all designs. That would include the geotechnical work, the excavation, what's underneath, etc. The rebar would need to be inspected before the first concrete was placed. Concrete may need to be a specific mix. The entire base would need to be a specific size based on wind load, tower height, etc. The tower designs often need to be signed off by a PE, but often the manufacturer provides that part. Unless this is in a really rural area, there would be siting issues, zoning, all kinds of stuff. I know what it took for us to put a 50 foot tower at work, all the engineering, etc and it wasn't cheap or easy. Before we add anything to the tower, it has to get reviewed to look at wind load of not only the antenna but the additional cable, mounting, etc.

You could certainly try reporting your employer, but that would likely get you into a position where your "services are no longer needed". $9 an hour isn't great pay, but it's more than some people get. Your best path would be to try and educate your employer. Check with the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) about requirements, also check with your state OSHA and the Federal OSHA about what sort of safety requirements you need to meet the state/fed laws. DON'T climb a tower again until you have the training and proper safety gear.

Amateur radio operators would be of little use in this case. They may certainly know about local codes, but you can get that from your city/county building inspectors office. Tower climbing and construction are serious business and not for amateurs. Make sure you get your information from the right sources.

Here is a well recognized company that specializes in tower climber training. Bring this to your employers attention if you want, maybe he'll set you up with the right training and equipment... ComTrain - Your source for Certified Tower Climbing Safety, Fall Protection & Rescue and Tower Construction & Technology Training.

And most of all PLEASE BE CAREFUL, remember, it's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end.
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Old 12-06-2012, 7:08 AM
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You probably have an obligation to contact the authorities if you believe the tower could be unsafe.

After that, I'd be looking for a new job.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:05 PM
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Years ago the FAA had a book out called "Objects Affecting Navigable Air Space." Depending on where your tower is located, that's the first thing that will get your boss in real trouble. Nobody messes with the Feds unless they're really out of touch with reality. Then comes local building codes. state labor laws, etc. etc. etc., not to mention OSHA again, which once again puts him in the sights of the Feds.

My repeater group here in DC moved its main machine a couple of years ago, and the tower owner allowed us to "share" in the cost of the tower work which primarily involved the replacement of two heaters in an FM broadcast antenna. The "tower monkeys," as they are known charged $10K for the job, and included the mounting of our stacked dipoles at 325 feet and the installation of our Heiliax and our share of the job for that work came to $2,500, just to give you an idea of how much this kind of work is worth when done by insured professionals.
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Old 12-07-2012, 1:11 AM
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I dunno, guys. I'm thinking troll here...
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Old 12-07-2012, 2:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daredevil84 View Post
I'd like to know what labor/safety/OSHA rules were side-stepped.
Contact OSHA and ask them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daredevil84 View Post
I've never been 'trained' to climb towers. I don't have experience in assembling towers.
You do now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daredevil84 View Post
...but I don't see how getting a novice involved in such a DANGEROUS project is legal.
It's not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daredevil84 View Post
I know this is a special-skilled job because every person I tell what I do for work, says they would never risk their life climbing that high.
Tower climbing is inherently dangerous. Because of that, OSHA has some very strict training and equipment rules. If you're looking for a list of rules that were broken, you need to talk to OSHA and tell them in detail exactly what you were doing, and how. You're not going to get good advice here, other than to refer you to someone else.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:27 PM
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Under these circumstances, why bother asking a bunch of radioheads? Call your regional OSHA office (phone book under us government) and get a labor-knowledgeable lawyer. Contrary to popular belieft free amateur legal advice is worthless.
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