OSHA to Pay Special Attention to Accidents Involving Communication Tower Workers

A recent communications tower collapse in West Virginia resulted in the deaths of two tower workers, as well as a firefighter who died while responding to the incident. These deaths are part of a sharp rise in fatalities in this industry. In fact, more communication tower workers were killed in 2013 than in the previous two years combined. According to Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels,

OSHA is very concerned about the sharp rise in deaths and is going to increase its enforcement in the industry.

Dr. Michaels recently spoke at the 2014 National Association of Tower Erectors conference and indicated that workers in the communications tower industry face a risk of fatal injury that is perhaps 25 to 30 times higher than the risk for the average American worker. According to Dr. Michaels, this risk is unacceptable. As a result, OSHA is going to educate industry and workers, and provide free small business consultations. OSHA has also told its field staff to pay special attention to investigations of communications tower incidents. OSHA reportedly will also be paying special attention to contracts and sub-contracts to determine who is performing tower work and what their qualifications are.

Most of the fatalities in this industry are due to falls, and OSHA has found that many of the workers who were killed were wearing harnesses that were not tied-off. Dr. Michaels reiterated that OSHA is striving to make 100% tie-off the norm in the communications tower industry.

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