According to OSHA

OSHA Seeking Input on Tower Workers' Safety

The agency is asking the industry for information on the types of hazards that communication tower workers encounter, the types of incidents (both fatal and non-fatal) that occur as a result, and the best methods employers can use to address the hazards.

OSHA has published a request for information about workers' safety when constructing and maintaining communication towers. Its notice says a search of OSHA's Integrated Management Information System database found 107 incidents from 2003 through 2013 that resulted in 91 fatalities and 17 injuries, with 79 of the deaths due to falls. Structural collapses killed an additional eight people, three fatalities involved electrocutions, and the last fatality involved an employee struck by a load while working on a tower. In addition, 2013 was the deadliest year for communication tower workers since 2006. According to 2013 OSHA incident investigation reports, there were 15 incidents that year, resulting in 13 deaths and three injuries that required hospitalization.

The increasing demand for wireless and broadcast communications during the past 30 years "has spurred dramatic growth in communication tower construction and maintenance" the document states, adding that employees regularly climb anywhere from 100 to 2,000 feet and face the risk of falls, structural collapses, electrical hazards, and hazards associated with inclement weather.

"Work on communication towers often involves complex business relationships among multiple companies. Many communication towers are owned by dedicated tower companies, rather than broadcast or cell phone companies (carriers). The tower companies then lease space on the towers to wireless carriers. When a carrier needs to undertake a large-scale installation or upgrade project, it will contract with a construction management company (called a 'turfing vendor'). The turfing vendor typically hires specialized subcontractors to perform specific elements of the project, and those subcontractors may further contract with other companies to perform some of the work. It is not uncommon to have as many as six or seven layers of subcontractors between the carrier and the company that employs the workers who actually perform the work (or certain parts of the work). This business structure poses challenges to setting and enforcing safety rules and ensuring the well-being of employees," the document states.

"We understand the importance of this industry, but workers' lives should not be sacrificed for a better cell phone signal. OSHA is inviting the public to tell us what we can do to better protect these workers," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary for occupational safety and health. OSHA is seeking information within the next 60 days from all parties in the contracting chain, including tower workers, wireless carriers, engineering and construction management firms, tower owners, and tower construction and maintenance companies.

To submit a comment, visit http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket No. OSHA-2014-0018.

Several OSHA standards govern communication tower maintenance work, and there are consensus standards, as well, including the Telecommunications Industry Association standard TIA-222-G, Structural Standard for Antenna Supporting Structures and Antennas, and TIA-1019, Standard for Installation, Alteration and Maintenance of Antenna Supporting. An ANSI standard now under development, ANSI A10.48, will address safety practices for the construction and maintenance of communication towers, the document state. In addition, North Carolina and Michigan have communication tower standards in place, and Washington State is planning to update its telecommunications standard.

Download Center

  • OSHA Recordkeeping Guide

    In case you missed it, OSHA recently initiated an enforcement program to identify employers who fail to electronically submit Form 300A recordkeeping data to the agency. When it comes to OSHA recordkeeping, there are always questions regarding the requirements and ins and outs. This guide is here to help! We’ll explain reporting, recording, and online reporting requirements in detail.

  • Incident Investigations Guide

    If your organization has experienced an incident resulting in a fatality, injury, illness, environmental exposure, property damage, or even a quality issue, it’s important to perform an incident investigation to determine how this happened and learn what you can do to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of performing an incident investigation.

  • Lone Worker Guide

    Lone workers exist in every industry and include individuals such as contractors, self-employed people, and those who work off-site or outside normal hours. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies, inadequate rest and breaks, physical violence, and more. To learn more about lone worker risks and solutions, download this informative guide.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Download the guide to learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • The Basics of Incident Investigations Webinar

    Without a proper incident investigation, it becomes difficult to take preventative measures and implement corrective actions. Watch this on-demand webinar for a step-by-step process of a basic incident investigation, how to document your incident investigation findings and analyze incident data, and more. 

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2022

    November December 2022

    Featuring:

    • IH: GAS DETECTION
      The Evolution of Gas Detection
    • OSHA TOP 10
      OSHA's Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for FY 2022
    • FALL PROTECTION
      Enhance Your Fall Protection Program with Technology
    • 90TH ANNIVERSARY
      The Future: How Safety WIll Continue to Evolve
    View This Issue