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OSHA Focuses on Protecting Cell Tower Employees after Increase in Worksite Fatalities

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is collaborating with the National Association of Tower Erectors and other industry stakeholders to ensure that communication tower employers understand their responsibility to protect workers in high-hazard work environments.

This comes in response to a series of tragic fatalities last month in Texas and West Virginia involving several cell tower works who had fallen during routine working operations at their cell tower stations.

“Tower worker deaths cannot be the price we pay for increased wireless communication,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Employers and cell tower owners and operators must do everything possible to stop these senseless, preventable tragedies.”

The agency has expressed concern over the alarming increase in preventable injuries and worker fatalities at communication tower jobsites. Last year, there were 13 fatalities that occurred in this industry-more than in the two previous years combined. The majority of these fatalities were the result of serious falls. The trend appears to be continuing with the four worker deaths occurring in the first five weeks of 2014. OSHA has now focused its attention on tower safety, and last week, sent out a letter to communication tower employers urging compliance and strict adherence to safety standards and common sense practices.

By law, OSHA requires employers to provide adequate fall protection equipment, train employees how to use the safety equipment and ensure that they use it properly and consistently. In addition to falls, tower workers have also been injured or killed by falling objects, the structural collapse of towers and equipment failures. For example, OSHA issued citations in December 2013 to Custom Tower LLC of Scott, LA for one willful violation following the death of a worker who fell approximately 125 feet.

Whatever the cause of an incident-whether it was a misstep by the victims, a manufacturing defect with their safety harnesses or any other circumstance that caused the men fall, ultimately the communications tower company may be liable. By OSHA standards, employers are responsible for providing safe work environments for all of his or her employees to prevent hazardous situations that pose the threat of serious bodily injury or death.

In addition to the physical injuries an employee may sustain during a workplace accident, victims and their families must also cope with a great deal of emotional and financial stress. Costs associated with a work injury can include medical bills, lost wages, and psychological care. If you have a question about workplace injury or if your loved one was the victim of a workplace fatality, call one of our experienced Boston Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for a free initial consultation to discuss filing a workers’ compensation claim. One of our seasoned lawyers at Altman & Altman will thoroughly investigate your work injury case and examine all avenues of recovery for you. There may be third parties who can be held liable for your loss, such as the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment or a negligent contractor, and we can file claims or lawsuits against all negligent parties so that you receive the compensation you deserve.

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