Tower Talks: DOL, FCC, Telecommunications Industry Join Forces to Prevent Tower Worker Fatalities
In the words of U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, “[t]he cell phones in our pockets can’t come at the cost of a worker’s life.” On October 14, 2014, the Department of Labor, Federal Communications Commission, and telecommunications industry leaders joined forces to discuss solutions to the surging trend of tragic deaths among cellular phone tower workers.
With worker safety in mind, the trifecta established a group dedicated to implementing recommended safety practices after collaborating with entities such as the National Association of Tower Erectors, in an effort to combat tower tragedies. Statistics show that in 2014, to date, there have been 11 fatalities among cell phone tower workers. Given the small number of cell phone tower workers overall (10,000-15,000), cell phone tower workers are considered 10 times more likely to be injured or suffer a fatality than construction workers. In that regard, Kathy Pierce, participant, perhaps may be credited with a powerful call to arms: her son, Chad Walker, tragically fell to his death after a vehicle hit the cell phone tower upon which he was working in the rain.
This federal agency/national industry collaboration furthers OSHA’s recent call to awareness of worker protection, including the recent amendment to OSHA Directive CPL-02-01-056 regarding “Inspection Procedures for Accessing Communications Towers by Hoist.”