OSHA Cites Wireless Horizon Following Cell Towers' Collapse

The collapse killed two workers last March.

OSHA has cited Wireless Horizon Inc. for two willful and four serious safety violations following the deaths of two workers in the collapse of a cell tower they were dismantling on March 25. Following the incident, OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Eleven workers have lost their lives nationwide in the communication tower industry during 2014, according to the agency.

"Two families lost their loved ones in a preventable tragedy. No one should ever have to endure that loss. Inspecting and ensuring equipment is in good working order is a common-sense safety procedure that stop injuries and fatalities," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "OSHA expects tower owners and operators, such as Wireless Horizon, to protect their workers on job sites in this hazardous industry by increasing training and implementing all known safety precautions. Our nation's growing need for telecommunications should not cost workers their lives."

The tower technicians were using a load-lifting gin pole attached to the side of the tower with a wire rope sling. The sling failed, causing the gin pole to fall and bring the tower down with it. One of the employees was above the gin pole near the top of the tower, and the second employee was approximately 20 feet below the pole. Both workers fell to the ground during the collapse. The company did not use proper engineering plans to ensure the workers were protected against this type of collapse.

An investigation by OSHA found that Wireless Horizon failed to inspect the wire rope slings prior to their use and provide protection to the slings when rigged over sharp objects. Wireless Horizon also failed to conduct an engineering survey and develop a rigging plan prior to beginning the demolition process. Additionally, the company did not provide the technicians a load chart for the gin pole in use or operator manuals.

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