OSHA issues warning about cell phone tower safety

The proliferation of cell phone subscribers in the last decade may be a boon for mobile service providers, but it has an unfortunate underside that many people do not know about. Workers on cell towers have been injured and killed at alarming rates, according to recent report by FRONTLINE. The Investigators for PBS found that the number of fatal accidents stemming from falls from cell towers was more than any other construction industry site. It was discovered that nearly half of all construction site fatalities between 2003 and 2011 were attributable to workers falling from cell towers. 

The report was so telling that it prompted a warning to be issued by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Essentially, subcontractors for cell service providers were likely skirting their responsibilities to provide proper safety equipment, require their employees to attend trainings and complete routine safety checks before climbing towers.

Given the growth in the mobile phone industry, and the number of towers that are established and need to be maintained, it is reasonable to say that more people will be climbing cell towers in inclement weather or other difficult conditions. This could increase the possibility of a fall.

The OSHA warning is also essential because employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for employees. Part of this duty includes establishing and maintaining safety protocols that will keep employees safe when mishaps occur. If an employer fails in adhering to this duty, and an employee is killed as a result, the employer could face liability. 

Source: PBS.org “Labor Dept. warns of ‘alarming’ rise in cell tower deaths,” Jason M. Breslow, Feb. 13, 2014

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