At least ten workers have died in falls from tower-climbing this year, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), another three have been seriously injured. These injuries and deaths have prompted scrutiny from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is the federal agency that handles workplace safety.
A WSJ report claimed that OSHA is looking to find new approaches for evaluating the safety conditions in the tower-climbing industry, including the role that network carriers have on these individuals. The agency will also look into contracts and how the pressure to finish projects under deadlines could be adding to the death tolls.
Both vendors and carriers have expressed sadness over the deaths, and they have stressed that safety for the workers is one of their biggest concerns for them. Also, these tower workers could work anywhere from twelve to sixteen hours days. Due to these long hours, could lead to lapses in safety that might contribute to these fatalities.
Assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, David Michaels, told the WSJ that OSHA is taking a closer look into reasons which could be responsible for the increase in deaths, then based on these findings will start additional measures to raise safety in the cell-tower industry.
Todd Schlekeway, NATE Executive Director, said that the group has been the leader in the industry when it comes to promoting tower climber safety, education and standards, plus its members can access guidelines and resources which helps establishes safety with their employees within their organization.
NATE also made an internal program, called STAR Imitative, which focuses on Safety, Training, Accountability, and Reliability by asking its participants to be committed to increased voluntary safety site audits and requisite training levels.
Schlekeway also said that NATE encourages the carriers to use its Qualified Contractor’s Evaluation Checklist to make sure that only contractors who are qualified and with a proven safety record are hired. He noted that U.S. Cellular (one wireless carrier) started recently requiring that only NATE member companies are able to work on their sites.