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Gaps in Policy Place Cell Phone Tower Workers at Risk of Work Injuries

by William J. “Will” Maiberger, Jr. on 06/22/2012

Cell Phone Tower

 

They are some of the most neglected workers in America, dying at a rate that is much higher than the fatality rate in the construction industry.  Tower climbers, or workers hired to build and maintain cell phone network, television, and radio towers, are some of the most at-risk group of workers in the United States. 

According to a report by ProPublica, tower climbing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, and has been so since 2003, when another stage of cell phone network expansion began across the country.  Since then almost 100 tower climbers have been killed on the job.  Between 2003 and 2011, 50 tower climbers died when they were working on cell phone network towers.

Yet, San Antonio work injury lawyers find that little attention is paid to these workers, most of who are not covered under worker's compensation laws.  Most cell phone companies choose to outsource this work to subcontractors.  This is highly dangerous work, and the outsourcing is part of a policy to outsource all kinds of risky activities.  All the major cell phone carriers including AT&T and Verizon outsource their tower maintenance operations, and as a result, not a single fatality is listed against these carriers in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's workplace accident database.

In many of these cases, accidents occurred because the tower climbers were given very little training before they were sent hundreds of feet into the air.  In other cases, the accidents were caused due to poor or malfunctioning equipment. 

AT&T seems to have a particularly bad record when it comes to tower worker fatalities on its sites.  The company had more fatalities on its towers than all 3 of its closest competitors combined.  At AT&T sites, as many as 50 workers have died since 2003.

Tags: Construction Site Work Injuries, Workplace Injury, Workers Compensation, San Antonio

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