Upstate News

April 15, 2010
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Upstate to host statewide conference on tower climbing safety issues April 24

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—In the first gathering of its kind in New York, the statewide conference “Climbers’ Perspectives on Tower Safety” will bring tower climbers together with public health and safety experts to explore climbers’ perspectives on this highly skilled but dangerous occupation.

The conference will be held Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Upstate Medical University’s Occupational Health Clinical Center, 6712 Brooklawn Parkway, Suite 204, in Syracuse. The conference is a statewide initiative with the goal of making policy recommendations to elevate the state?s standards for tower climbing.

Cell phones, cable, television, the Internet, wireless, radio signals and other forms of communication would not be available if not for the work of tower climbers. The conference will explore what measures need to be improved or established to ensure the health and safety of individuals who pursue this occupation, where even the smallest of errors can lead to a catastrophic or fatal event for the climber.

“We suspect that the climbers’ perspective is a missing piece in existing training for work on the tower and work on the ground,” said Michael Lax, M.D., M.P.H., medical director of Upstate’s Occupational Health Clinical Center (OHCC). “It is critically important to hear their perspectives as we find new ways to prevent or reduce serious injuries or fatalities among workers who choose this occupation.”

Offering their perspectives, those of their families, and discussing unresolved issues regarding tower climbing will be former tower climber Dale Remington, whose son, Dirk Remington, lost his life working on a tower in Schuyler County in 2009. Remington will be joined in the conversation by his daughter; tower climber Mark Fernandez, whose brother, Dwayne Fernandez, died on the job; and Wally Reardon, an experienced climber who serves as a conference organizer.

Also presenting at the conference in addition to Lax are Chris Adams, OSHA area director; and Anne Marie Gibson, principal investigator with the NYS Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, who will offer reactions from regulators and worker advocates; and Patricia Rector, director of outreach and education for OHCC.

Conference topics include tower design, T-booms and overloading, greater transparency after accidents or fatalities, and tower maintenance issues.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Occupational Health Clinical Center of Upstate Medical University and the New York State Network of Occupational Health Clinics. It is free and open to tower climbers or those affected by issues related to tower climbing. Pre-registration is required.

For more information or to pre-register call OHCC at 315-432-8899, extension 127.

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