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How to make cell tower work safer

As the demand for cellphones increases, more and more cellphone towers are seen popping up in large metropolitan areas like New York City and elsewhere in the U.S. Along with more towers comes the need for tower climbers, who face many risks with the job. In fact, OSHA reported that from 2011 to 2015, there were nearly 40 fatalities among those who were employed in the communications tower industry.

In an attempt to make cellphone tower climbers safer, officials with the Federal Communications Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration held a seminar to address the issue on Feb. 11. The move followed OHSA's Request for Information sent to stakeholders in the communication tower industry addressing the need to prevent tower-related injuries and deaths among its workers and asking for their opinions.

During the seminar, the stakeholders stated that a major factor regarding tower climber safety is subcontractors who are not qualified for the job. It was also said that when numerous subcontractors are working at the same site, identifying which ones are fully qualified to perform their duties can be difficult. While some at the seminar said that more safety requirements included in the contract would encourage subcontractors to take safety more seriously, another person suggested that a third party should be involved to identify each worker's qualifications and make sure the cell tower work sites are adhering to safety practices.

Whenever a workplace accident occurs, most injured workers have the right to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Sometimes, however, employees encounter troubles because their employer denies or disputes the claim. In such an event, having the assistance of an attorney at an appeals hearing could be advisable.

Source: Safety and Health, "'You can't subcontract safety'", Kyle Morrison, March 27, 2016

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