Labor Extends Tower Safety Deal, White House AI Session, Digital Inclusion Initiative

The 5-year deal hopes to limit accidents on tower builds.

Labor Extends Tower Safety Deal, White House AI Session, Digital Inclusion Initiative
Photo of Dave Kelser, Electronics Technician, TKN from Flickr.

WASHINGTON, December 13, 2023 – The Labor Department announced Tuesday the extension of a strategic collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission and a contractor association to prevent fatalities, injuries, and illnesses often encountered by workers in the telecommunications industry.

The renewed five-year commitment between Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the FCC and NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association aims to develop best practices to address the root causes of various hazards faced by tower technicians, including falls from heights, high-energy electrical contact, falling objects, tower collapses, and inclement weather conditions during tower construction and maintenance activities.

The partners will also establish job-specific safety and health training for supervisors and foreperson, telecommunications tower technicians, project managers and project supervisors.

Over 65 percent of wireless tower technicians have worked on sites where someone sustained injuries, and nearly one-in-five workers know someone who has been killed on the job, per a safety survey conducted by the Communications Workers of America.

Most respondents report their employers enforcing rules or work conditions that could jeopardize safety.

The timing of this renewed agreement comes as the association’s member companies and their technicians play a frontline role in building out networks as part of the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment program, funding from which is expected to reach states in 2024.

In preparation for the BEAD rollout, the partnership is aiming to mitigate issues through outreach, training, and technical assistance.

White House AI Council convenes for inaugural session

Members of the Joe Biden administration convened for the inaugural session of the White House AI Council on Tuesday to strategize the execution of President Biden’s AI executive order.

During the meeting, officials discussed methods to attract skilled individuals to government roles, protocols for safe testing of new AI models, and strategies to mitigate risks including fraud, discrimination, and privacy concerns.

Additionally, the gathering addressed the recently announced U.S. Artificial Intelligence Safety Institute, initiated by the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology last month.

The participants received a classified briefing from the president’s national security team to discuss the international dimensions and capability of AI, according to The Hill, citing a White House official.

Among the attendees were Cabinet members including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough.

The White House AI Council is set to convene regularly, in line with its establishment within Biden’s comprehensive executive order on AI. Notably, the order mandates the reporting of information regarding the testing and subsequent outcomes of models posing risks to national security, economic stability, or public health to the federal government.

NDIA launches resource collection for advancing digital inclusion initiatives

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance announced Wednesday it is launching an open collection of 591 verified resources and documents for researchers, advocates, and local governments to utilize in advancing digital inclusion initiatives.

The available resources span a wide range, including awarded grant applications, budgets and financial plans, job descriptions, and comprehensive digital equity strategies.

The materials are sourced from 47 communities across the country, which NDIA recognized today as 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers. The communities were chosen because they consistently demonstrate contemporary best practices in the rapidly growing digital inclusion field.

Alongside the new interactive resource base, NDIA has launched an interactive map and a searchable database to enhance accessibility to these invaluable resources.

See the resource database and list of 47 communities recognized as 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers here on NDIA’s website.

Popular Tags