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Cellphone tower deaths prompt federal workplace accident response

Workers who maintain cellphone towers in Texas and other states are at an increased risk of workplace injury and death, according to new information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That group is attempting to crack down on employer negligence that has reportedly led to injurious and fatal workplace accidents at cellphone tower sites. Official reports show that 13 workers died at these sites in 2013, which is higher than the fatality rates for 2011 and 2012 combined.

OSHA has thus shifted its focus in Texas and other regions, emphasizing the importance of fall protection and cellphone tower safety. The increased attention to this problem comes after the January death of a Texas worker who suffered a fatal fall from a cellphone tower. Just one day later, another worker died at a tower site in West Virginia.

Government officials say they are committed to improving safety and health enforcement at cellphone tower sites. They are calling on cellphone companies and tower owners to take action to prevent these fatal workplace accidents. In many cases, the only changes that would need to be made would be related to fall protection and similar systems.

Most of the 2013 communication tower fatalities involved falls. OSHA investigators say they require companies to provide adequate fall protection equipment, and employees must be trained in its use. Employers will be held accountable for overseeing these improvements, or serious consequences could result. One company in nearby Louisiana was cited for a willful violation, for example, after a worker plunged 125 feet to his death.

Victims who have lost a loved one in a workplace accident may benefit from the advice of a Texas personal injury attorney. These professionals may be able to provide additional information about victims’ rights in the wake of such an accident. Family members should be granted access to the workers’ compensation funds they need and deserve.

Source: Today’s Facility Manager, “OSHA To Focus On Cell Tower Employees After Increase In Worksite Fatalities” Heidi Schwartz, Mar. 05, 2014

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