The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) agency has cited an ‘alarming increase’ in preventable injuries and deaths related to cell phone tower contractors.
OSHA communicated its warning to contractors, and the companies that hire them, in a letter – following a staggering rise in fatalities last year.
Incidents were found to be highest among tower climbers – a job that was once considered the most dangerous position in America. Clearly, there are still concerns about future incidents, particularly related to the hazardous work of subcontractors, and OSHA has warned that companies can face penalties if they don’t do enough to prevent falls.
“It is imperative that the cell tower industry take steps immediately to address this pressing issue,” the agency said in the letter, which was dated Monday and sent Tuesday to about 100 communication-tower employers. “It is your responsibility to prevent workers from being injured or killed while working on communication towers.”
Thirteen deaths occurred in 2013, which is more than in the previous two years combined, and most of the 13 resulted from falls. In the past few months, tower workers also have been injured or killed by falling objects, structural collapses and equipment failures.
“This disturbing trend appears to be continuing,” the agency said, citing four worker deaths that have occurred in the first five weeks of 2014.
The Voluntary Participant’s Protection Association (VPPPA), a branch of OSHA that encourages risk management has suggested that a contractor safety program is essential to mitigate the hazards that these contractors (and their employers) face each day.
Following the VPPPA format, which works to prevent injuries, Avetta’s contractor prequalification program encourages firms to adopt a plan to prevent hazards and encourage commitment to workplace safety. For more information on VPPPA standards, and how PICS addresses them, you can reach us at 1-800-506-7427 or online at www.avetta.com.