Spike in Tower Climber Death/Injury

Posted on February 19th, 2014 by

Tower owners should take note of a recent letter from the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) addressed generally to any “communication tower industry employer.”  The letter notes a spike in deaths in the communication tower industry (13 in 2013 and 4 already in 2014), noting that the total of 17 deaths is more than occurred in the previous two years combined.  It also states that each one was preventable.

The Secretary’s letter goes on to state that OSHA is aware of a spike in tower work during the past year, and is concerned about future incidents, especially when tower work is done by employees of subcontractors.  OSHA has found that a high proportion of tower worker deaths occurred because of lack of fall protection (either not provided, or not used), and it warns employers that they have the responsibility to recognize and prevent workplace hazards.  OSHA has the power to and does issue financial penalties for safety violations, and the Secretary’s letter warns of more to come.  Most important, it urges the industry to take steps to safeguard employees, from training to the provision of equipment and actions to confirm use of equipment.

Broadcast tower owners or tenants who hire tower climbers should be especially selective with respect to individual and tower climber company safety practices.  Tower worker protection information is available at www.osha.ogv/doc/topics/communicationtower/indes.html.  Beyond safety steps, be proactive with requirements for and proof of insurance before any tower climbing.