Last August, four workers died from falls on cell towers across the country. Before the end of 2013, a worker in Kansas fell to his death from a tower. Then, in early February 2014, two workers were killed and two more were hospitalized when two cell towers collapsed in West Virginia.
Following these deadly accidents, OSHA is changing how it investigates and assigns responsibility for injuries to tower climbers.
The cell tower industry has been called the most dangerous job in America. OSHA is tracking which companies’ subcontractors were working for when accidents occurred. In a recent letter, the agency criticized “check the box” language written into contracts that doesn’t set out clear standards for safety. OSHA has insisted that carriers and tower owners must take more responsibility for safety.
There have been 19 climber deaths in communications tower accidents since the beginning of 2013. Tower sites are harder for OSHA to check randomly than factories or other construction sites because work often occurs in short bursts, rather than over weeks or months.