Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan from North Carolina. We are deeply concerned about any job-related death and hope that increased safety measures can be implemented for cell tower workers.
On May 22, 2012 the PBS Frontline series ran a devastating story about cell tower deaths in this exploding industry and at the end of the story, after it had revealed how little concern is being shown for the safety of men who climb these towers, one man was quoted as saying “people will die.”
It was reported that the accident rate on cell towers is ten times the rate of accidents in the construction industry. So, we know people will die and it’s as predictable as snow in Colorado in the winter, yet it looks like nothing will be done.
One well known builder said his company might do 4 towers in a year, but now they were being asked to do 40, and there was no way to properly train new men to do that work safely.
The Frontline story outlined the tremendous growth of cell towers, particularly between 2006-2008 as the demand grew for internet connections all over the country. Carriers like AT&T wanted to get rid of dead zones and in order to do that they needed more towers and they needed them built quickly to out pace the competition. One well known builder said his company might do 4 towers in a year, but now they were being asked to do 40, and there was no way to properly train new men to do that work safely. As a result, safety took a back seat to getting the job done.
A 21 year old man who had dropped out of school to find a job was paid $10 an hour full time to construct towers and he eventually fell 200 feet to his death, primarily because he was not wearing a safety harness that would have prevented his fall. He had been ‘free-climbing” (no harness) to move more quickly,and many others did the same thing. OSHA requires that the employer enforce safety.
A 21 year old man who had dropped out of school to find a job was paid $10 an hour full time to construct towers and he eventualy fell 200 feet to his death.
The boss can’t just leave it up to the employee and when a death occurs blame the employee for not following safety rules, but that is what always happens. Eleven deaths occured in one year on AT&T jobs and they stopped work (finally) to discuss the problem. Last year there were no deaths on AT&T towers. It’s amazing what can happen when companies make safety a priority.
It’s amazing what can happen when companies make safety a priority.
Unfortunately, the demand is still high and as these towers continue to be built you will hear about falls,serious injuries and deaths, all at a tragic cost to families who are affected. As Americans, are we going to enforce safety or are we going to be like some other countries who just don’t seem to care? If we don’t care about safety enforcement for cell towers how long will it be before some other lack of safety compliance affects us – like airline pilot safety, bridge construction safety, or car safety – and a son,daughter, father or other person we care about is injured? We will ask ourselves why we
didn’t do more to stop this madnness. We know “people will die” yet we do nothing? We have to stop hoping that safety will be enforced. We have to demand it.