Operations & Access Information

There are currently in excess of 450 telecommunications towers and compounds located within the Cignal portfolio – a mixture of tower sites owned by Cignal and tower sites owned by 3rd parties.

Please make sure that your work teams understand and follow our Cignal Access Policy described below, for all access to and works on tower sites within the Cignal portfolio.  In addition, please see the section here on Cignal-owned Tower Site Access where your works involve a Cignal-owned tower site.

We would strongly recommend that you use our Cignal Tower Finder App or the Cignal Tower Finder website to pre-plan your visit.

The seven key points covering access to either Cignal-owned or 3rd party-owned tower sites which are part of the Cignal portfolio are:

  • Your access to a Cignal-owned Tower Site MUST be authorised by Cignal (see our section on Cignal-owned Tower Site Access).
  • Your access to a 3rd party-owned Tower Site MUST be authorised by the individual 3rd party tower owner.
  • You must use the correct access route to the location and ensure that you have the necessary keys – see the sections on the Cignal Tower Finder App and Cignal Locks & Keys.
  • You MUST carry out a location-specific risk assessment to cover your access to the site and your works at the site for EVERY visit – please refer to our Health & Safety section for important information to support your risk assessment.
  • You MUST have a method statement to cover your access and works and be satisfied that you and your works team are suitably qualified to carry out the access, works and the risk assessment covering both.
  • Your works must always be inside the tower compound – if this is a problem, please contact us to discuss further.
  • You must understand and comply with the Cignal Access Policy and Environmental Policy.

Where relevant you must also:

  • Remove all waste and other unused materials when your works are complete.
  • Report any contaminating spills to Cignal and the local Coillte Forest Operations Manager. (If within a Coillte Forest.)
  • Report any hazards such as - deteriorating access routes, fallen or unsafe trees impacting access routes, compounds or power lines, all instances or indications of fire, all instances of damage to barriers, locks, gates or entrances.

Cignal may, from time to time, amend these policies to ensure the safety of all forest and infrastructure users.

Using Coillte Forest Roads

While using Coillte Forest roads, you must comply with the following:

  • You must obey all safety signage and comply with all authorised instructions received.
  • Where relevant, you must close and lock any Coillte Forest access barriers behind you on entry and exit.
  • Speed Limit: You must comply with the Coillte road maximum speed limit of 25km/h. In addition, you should always reduce your speed to a level appropriate to the traffic, weather and road conditions and be vigilant against hazards and risks at all times.
  • You must wear a High-Visibility vest or clothing while out of your vehicle on Coillte land.
  • You must remain within the communications compound or on the designated access route for the location. Use the Cignal Tower Finder App to make sure you are on the correct route.
  • Generally, communications visitors are not authorised to use chainsaws on Coillte land. However, if you need to in the course of dealing with an access emergency, you must be certified to NPTC CS34 or CS35 and must have the required PPE.
  • You MUST carry out a location-specific risk assessment to cover your access to the site and your works at the site for EVERY visit.
  • You MUST have a method statement to cover your access and works and be satisfied that you and your works team are suitably qualified to carry out the access, works and the risk assessment covering both. Please use the Hazard Identification section below as part of your risk assessment.

Keeping Tabs on Safety

We carry out regular assessments of all access routes across the Cignal portfolio as well as full annual inspections of all Cignal-owned tower sites.  We will advise 3rd party tower site owners if we come across any obvious hazards at or around their sites.

We would ask that you let us know if you:

  • Come across any new or unusual hazard
  • Suffer any accident or near-miss

Hazard Identification when accessing the Cignal portfolio

As communications operators or contractors, you will be well aware of the normal risk and hazards associated with communications site operations.  However, given the remote nature of many of the Cignal locations, you should bear in mind the following generic hazards when compiling your risk assessment and method statement for any site access and works:

Cignal Generic Access and Works Hazards

 

Hazard Issues for Consideration
Remote Location

Typically, telecoms facilities within the Cignal portfolio are in remote locations with sometimes challenging access routes.

Emergency planning should consider location access challenges.

In particular, guidance of emergency services to the scene of an incident may prove challenging and may require planning and preparation in advance.  Some locations may not be accessible to all emergency services.

Adequate Working Alone procedures are essential.

Weather

Locations can be remote, exposed and at altitude.

Locations can be subject to:

  • Rapid changes in visibility
  • Rapid changes in temperature
  • Rapid changes in the level and nature of precipitation
  • Rapid changes in wind speed
  • Rapid deterioration in access route conditions
  • Low temperatures and high wind-chill
Visitors should consider whether they have appropriate clothing, vehicle and equipment to deal with changing weather conditions.
Access Route Condition

Access to telecommunications facilities on Coillte lands can be via unpaved, uneven and infrequently used forest roads and tracks, sometimes with steep gradients.

The condition of these access routes can be significantly impacted by weather and weathering.

In areas where forestry operations have not occurred recently, the condition of bridges and culverts along access routes may have deteriorated.

The current condition of access routes should be assessed prior to use.  The access method should ensure that a suitable vehicle and driving method is used.

In general, Cignal recommends that particular driving care is used on all access routes.  Cignal would also suggest that the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles is preferred on most access routes.

In particular where large vehicular access is required, the condition and suitability of the road and any associated bridges or culverts should be carefully assessed.

Where there is any uncertainty as to the suitability of an access route for vehicular traffic, site access should be achieved on foot.

Forest

Many telecoms facilities and associated access routes are surrounded by forest with the associated hazard of falling and fallen trees, branches and power lines, particular during or after periods of high wind.

Fallen overhead or severed/damaged underground power lines should never be approached and should immediately be reported to Cignal and the ESB.

Fallen trees blocking access routes should be reported to Cignal.

Fire

Coillte lands are particularly at risk of fire.

Care and attention should be paid to indications (e.g. smoke, smell) or presence of fire.  In the event of any indications of fire, a visitor should immediately leave the area and report the issue to Cignal and the emergency services.

Method statements should cover the safe use, transport and storage of flammable liquids.

All works should be carried out such that no sparks or other potential fire hazards are created which may lead to a fire in the surrounding area.

 

Forestry Operations

Forestry operations may be on-going around a telecoms facility and/or its access route.

Care and attention should be paid to:

  • Warning signs and excluded areas
  • Large vehicles & machinery, potentially with restricted visibility, using the access route
  • Indications of tree felling or chemical spraying

The wearing of appropriate PPE, including a hi-visibility vest or clothing, by Visitors to telecommunications facilities is mandatory while on Coillte land.

Visitors should not deviate from the access route and telecoms facility compound.

Visitors should make forestry operations staff aware of their presence in the area where appropriate.

Other Forest Users

Much of Coillte land is open to use by the general public for recreation purposes, including walking, cycling, horse-riding and hunting.

While not authorised by Coillte, use of off-road vehicles can also occur.

All method statements should take into account the potential for the unannounced presence of members of the general public around the telecoms facility and the access route to the facility.

In particular, attention should be paid to the potential presence of other users (walkers, cyclists, etc.) when driving on access routes.

Where appropriate, safety signage should be erected to warn other forest users of works.

All Rights-of-Way must be kept clear at all times.

Wildlife

Large wildlife, such as deer, may be present on Coillte lands.

Care should be exercised on Coillte forest roads as large wildlife such as deer may be encountered.
Shooting

Shooting licences are issued periodically in certain Coillte locations.

Care and attention should be paid to warning signs and excluded access routes and areas.

Shooting is usually permitted only between 8am -11am. Should you wish to gain access during these times please use the contact number provided on signs from the shooting club.

If you failing to make contact, please use the Tower Finder app to make contact with the local Coillte Forest Technician.

The wearing of appropriate PPE, including a hi-visibility vest or clothing, by Visitors to telecommunications facilities is mandatory while on Coillte land.

Utilities

Power supply to telecoms facilities is typically delivered underground from the last ESB pole.  However, power cabling may also exist underground prior to the last pole.  Power cabling can exist anywhere on Coillte land.

Method statements should, where relevant take into account the potential presence of:

  • underground power cabling within and in the vicinity of telecoms compounds
  • overhead power lines

Fallen overhead or severed/damaged underground power lines should never be approached and should immediately be reported to Coillte and the ESB.

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed may be present in certain Coillte locations.

Visitors should remain on the access route and within the telecoms compound.  Visitors should not enter into areas of forest or vegetation.
Lyme Disease

(Caused by bites from infected ticks)

Visitors should:

  • Keep skin covered –especially legs.
  • Inspect skin and clothing frequently for ticks.
  • Carefully remove any ticks.
  • Disinfect and cover wound.
  • Contact GP if concerned.
Weil’s Disease

(Caused by contact with rat urine)

Visitors should:

  • Wear appropriate PPE when working in areas that may be infected by rat urine.
  • Cover existing cuts and broken skin with waterproof plasters.
  • Never touch dead rodents with bare hands.
  • Use Weil’s wipes to disinfect hands after possible contact.
  • Contact G.P if symptoms observed or infection is suspected.

Please use the Cignal Tower Finder App to check for any location-specific H&S advisories.  You can also use the app to send us photos of any issue you come across.

If you need any specific information to assist you in carrying out a risk assessment or in making your works safer, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Cignal Health & Safety Questionnaire

On an annual basis, Cignal contacts all of our customers and any organisation who generally requests access to Cignal-owned tower sites to request completion of a Health & Safety Questionnaire.

This confirms to us that you have good policies in place and that you promote H&S and safe practices within your organisation.

Given that many Cignal locations are in environmentally sensitive areas, we would ask that all telecoms visitors consider the environment and its protection for any planned works.  Cignal has developed the following environmental policy for telecoms operations in and around all Cignal locations.  This policy must be followed for ALL access and works on tower sites within the Cignal portfolio.

Major Works

Any major works planned within any tower compound, whether Cignal or 3rd-party owned, must be notified at least two weeks in advance to Cignal.  Working with you, we will complete an Environmental Impact Assessment for the planned works and agree any method mitigation for the works in order to ensure that the environment around the site is protected.

Major works are any works which:

  • require ANY breaking of ground
  • consist of construction
  • require use of any machinery except for the use of a MEWP for height access
  • occur outside of the telecoms compound
  • involve deployment and maintenance/fuelling of a temporary power generator in a Bird-Sensitive area

All team members carrying out Major Works must be EIA-trained and all works must adhere to the principals delivered under this EIA training.  Please contact Cignal for information on EIA training.

Generator Deployment

If you need to deploy a generator to any compound, you must seek prior approval of your Method Statement from Cignal.
You must ensure that:

  • your method includes details on fuel handling which will minimise the danger of fuel spills.
  • your generator is contained in a single locked steel unit together with all fuel tanks.
  • the fuel system is double-bunded with no external fuel lines.
  • a fuel spill kit is stored on site and an additional fuel spill kit is available during fuel refills.

Minor Works, Inspection & Maintenance

For any non-major works on a tower site, the following simple rules must be followed:

  • The works must be within the compound.
  • Noise must be kept to a minimum.
  • You must remove all waste, packaging and rubbish at the end of your visit – in particular, please make sure that you collect up and remove all packaging, old cabling and cable ties.
  • If you need to spray weeds, you must only use the Roundup product.

Bird-Sensitive Areas

These are telecoms locations within or close to habitats that are important for statutorily protected birds (SPA or above).  There are approximately 20 telecoms locations with the Cignal portfolio which fall into this designation.  You can see if a location is Bird-Sensitive by looking at the location notes on the Cignal Tower Finder app and website.

We would ask that, when planning scheduled works at one of these locations, you avoid the nesting season which is annually between 1st April and 15th August inclusive.

Also, any non-emergency works requiring specialist machinery, such as a MEWP or power tools, MUST be scheduled outside the nesting season.  These restrictions are in support of the National Parks and Wildlife Service who will need to permit any deviations.
Please contact us at Cignal with any questions or concerns.

All access to Cignal-owned towers sites must be approved in advance by Cignal.

To submit an access request, please fill in and submit the form below: 

CIGNAL OWNED TOWER SITE ACCESS REQUEST FORM

Unless in the case of an emergency, you should submit your access request at least 2 working days in advance.

Immediate emergency access may go ahead without approval on most sites – you must at least submit your access request as usual but access may proceed without approval if your requirement is exceptional; however you must check the Cignal App, if under the ‘H&S Notes’ it states – ‘Restricted Access – Contact Cignal’ , emergency access is not permitted.

Note that if your works involve:

  • equipment addition, relocation or removal
  • ground breaking
  • deployment of a generator

we may need further information before we approve your request.

The compound gates and, where relevant, tower anti-climb systems are locked using the Cignal Compound Abloy Lock.  Please contact us here at Cignal, ideally using acccess@cignal.ie, if you need copies of these keys.

Please remember that it is strictly prohibited for any lock other than a Cignal Compound Abloy lock to be placed on a Cignal-owned compound or tower. No daisy-chaining of locks is permitted.

Site Information Pack & Safety File

Your access request approval will contain a link you can use to download relevant current H&S documentation and site safety certificates.

If, for any reason, you need a set of drawings, other design information or planning information for the site, please contact us.

Equipment Addition or Amendment

Under no circumstances should you add, relocate or remove equipment on a Cignal-owned tower site without prior permission from Cignal.

Please contact us for a copy of our current policy and procedures relating to the installation and management of equipment on Cignal-Owned tower sites.

Barrier Locks

You should use the Cignal Tower Finder App in advance to make sure you understand whether the access route to a site has a locked barrier and, if so, what key you need.  Generally, there are three situations:

  • The barrier is locked by a dual lock system with one of the locks being a Cignal Telecoms Barrier Lock.
  • The barrier is locked by a Coillte Burg Lock – these locks are being phased out in 2016.
  • For Coillte Sites, usually temporary, local reasons, the barrier is locked by a special Coillte Forest lock and access must be arranged through the local Coillte Forest Technician – use the Tower Finder App to make this call.
  • No Lock.
  • Cellcom Gate Lock.
  • ESB Electronic Lock.

Please contact us here at Cignal, ideally using acccess@cignal.ie, if you need a Cignal Telecoms Barrier Key or Coillte Burg key.

Please make sure that you keep all barriers locked and that you use the locks carefully – the continued operation of these barriers and locks is essential for all communiations users, particularly for these remote sites.

Cignal-owned Tower Site Locks

The compound gates and, where relevant, tower anti-climb systems are locked using the Cignal Compound Abloy Lock.  Please contact us here at Cignal, ideally using acccess@cignal.ie, if you need one of these keys.

Please remember that it is strictly prohibited for any lock other than a Cignal Compound Abloy lock to be placed on a Cignal-owned compound or tower. No daisy-chaining of locks is permitted.

When you are planning to visit any tower site within the Cignal portfolio – Cignal or 3rd party-owned – the Cignal Tower Finder App, available for both iPhone iOS and Android platforms or www.cignaltowerfinder.ie website, is the best way to:

  • Make sure you are using the correct access route to a Cignal location and use your phone GIS to get directions to it
  • Confirm the key you need to open any access route barrier
  • Use your phone’s GIS to find the tower
  • Get any location-specific H&S advisories
  • Send photos to Cignal of any access or other issues
  • Contact local forest staff in the case of any access or other emergencies

App Installation

When installing the Tower Finder App for the first time on your phone, you will need a username and password – contact access@cignal.ie and we’ll be happy to send these to you.

The same username and password will also work for www.cignaltowerfinder.ie.

Location Names & Operator References

The main Location index on the Cignal Tower Finder app and website uses the Cignal location name – which may be different to the name you use for the location. However, you can also use the app and website to search by county and by operator reference or use the app to show you the locations nearest to you. To find an operator reference, just select the “Reference” option under “Existing Telecoms Locations” and then search for any part of your reference.

Using Tower Finder Contact Information

Most Cignal locations are accessed via Coillte Forest access routes which typically have a forest barrier at the entrance and these barriers will open with a key that is available to you (see our section on Cignal Locks & Keys).  However, in some instances for Coillte operational reasons, the app may indicate that you need to contact the local Coillte Forest Technician who will arrange for the barrier to be opened.  You can use the app to make this call.

In addition where, for whatever reason, you cannot get through the barrier or access route (e.g. due to fallen trees) AND YOUR SITE VISIT IS AN EMERGENCY you can use the app to contact the Coillte Forest Technician, the local Coillte Forest office or the provided Emergency contact.

You should also use the app to make contact as above if you encounter a significant health & safety issue on a forest route – e.g. a fire or accident.

Of course, no matter what problem you encounter, please let us know here at Cignal.