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Increase in cell tower deaths prompts OSHA to act

The recent battle for cell phone customers among AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon may seem like another classic example of price competition, but it also an example of a disturbing trend among providers. In the race to gain customers and solidify customer loyalty, cell service providers have been erecting cell towers at what appears to be a breakneck pace.

With the number of towers being built, the number of accidents, especially fatal ones, are increasing at an alarming rate. A recent report by the PBS investigative show, “FRONTLINE” highlighted how falls from cell towers was disproportionately higher than other construction industry accidents. In fact, almost half of construction site fatalities between 2003 and 2011 were attributable to falls from cell phone towers. 

While the cell phone industry steadily growing, it does not appear that fewer cell towers will be built anytime soon. This potentially means that workers will continue to fall from towers unless changes are made. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recently issued a warning for cell phone providers to ensure that their subcontractors were properly training their employees and providing them with the required safety equipment to safely work on the towers.

For workers employed by these subcontractors, the notice was an important step in establishing a potential personal injury case in the event that their employer failed to provide a safe working environment or failed to provide proper equipment in order for them to complete their duties in a safe manner.  Indeed, many employee injury cases are resolved through workers’ compensation awards, but in unique circumstances, a personal injury claim may be brought. 

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

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