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OSHA Turns to Cell Tower Safety

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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WASHINGTON, DC—The rising death toll from maintenance and construction of communications towers is drawing new attention from federal health and safety regulators.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is requesting public input about safety hazards in those activities, to determine if additional measures are needed to protect workers.

OSHA said 2013 was the deadliest year for these workers since 2006, with 13 fatalities. In 2014, 12 workers were killed—double the number of deaths in 2011 and six times the total in 2012.

Information Requested

To stem that toll, OSHA is seeking information from tower workers, wireless carriers, engineering and construction management firms, tower owners, and construction and maintenance companies about the causes of employee injuries and fatalities.

The agency also wants to share best practices used by workers and employers in the industry.

communication tower

Communication tower workers face the risk of falls from great heights, structural collapse, electrical hazards and hazards associated with inclement weather, according to OSHA.

The request for information was published in the Federal Register April 15; comments must be submitted here by June 15.

'Dramatic' Tower Growth

An increased demand for wireless and broadcast communications has spurred dramatic growth in communication tower construction and maintenance over the last 30 years, OSHA said. And, in order to erect or maintain towers, employees frequently climb anywhere from 100 to 2,000 feet.

In addition to falls from great heights, communication tower workers face the risk of structural collapses, electrical hazards and hazards associated with inclement weather, according to OSHA.

"We understand the importance of this industry, but workers' lives should not be sacrificed for a better cell phone signal," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health.

"OSHA is inviting the public to tell us what we can do to better protect these workers."


Tagged categories: Construction; Fall protection; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; OSHA; Regulations; Transmission Towers; Utilities; Workers

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