Pole Attachment Development (August 4, 2004)
Worker Safety on Communications Towers

Date: Aug 04, 2004

Introducing a new stage of worker safety regulation, North Carolina this week became the first state to propose rules addressing worker safety on communication towers. Of interest to electric utility pole owners, the state defines "communication tower" to include electric utility transmission towers and distribution poles on which antennas are attached.

North Carolina's proposed rules would require employers, including electric utilities, either to provide fall protection for all employees working on towers or to implement a fall protection plan if a fall protection system is not feasible. Employers also would be required to assess hazards, supervise work, provide additional training for employees, implement emergency rescue procedures, prevent overexposure to radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, and comply with a host of record keeping requirements.

As currently written, any electric utility transmission tower or distribution pole in North Carolina to which wireless telecommunications antennas are attached would be subject to these new requirements. If antennas are used for the delivery of broadband over power line (BPL) service, those poles also would be affected.

We expect that North Carolina's rulemaking proceeding will be followed closely by other states interested in such regulation. If you have any questions about these proposed rules, please contact Tom Magee at (202) 434-4128 or magee@khlaw.com or our OSHA partner David Sarvadi at (202) 434-4249 or sarvadi@khlaw.com.