The Dangers of Being a Cell-Tower Worker
Tower workers scale up and down cellular towers that can be hundreds of feet tall. These handfuls of brave workers are critical to ensuring that the cellular network doesn’t collapse into a mess of useless metal structures. These towers are built weather the elements however nothing as sensitive as a cell tower can survive every possible weather pattern.
The Danger Explained
When these towers inevitably breakdown it falls to a workforce of less than 20,000 to go out and repair them. Many of these towers are hundreds of feet high. These tower workers must contend with high winds and extreme weather. Furthermore, due to the constantly expanding cellular networks and chronic labor shortages, they often operate alone. Despite harnesses and ropes, an unusually high percentage of these workers fall to their death or severe injury. According to the Department of Labor in 2014, 12 tower workers died from falls and dozens more were injured.
What is being done?
To combat this growing trend among tower workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or “OSHA”) and the Federal Communications Commission (or “FCC”) partnered up to promulgate and disseminate best practices among industry stakeholders. In October 2014, these agencies hosted a series of workshops to educate members in the telecommunication industry on proper tower worker safety.
After initiating these workshops, tower worker fatalities have only amounted to three in 2015. Hopefully, these workshops will continue this downward trend as the number of tower workers increase. OSHA and the FCC continue to host these programs into 2015 and 2016.
Another program started by the Employment and Training Administration (or “ETA”), is the “Tower Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (or “TIRAP”). TIRAP is a joint venture between telecommunication stakeholders, like companies and unions, and the ETA to circulate the latest in safety procedures and knowledge to all tower workers. These apprenticeship programs have sprung up all over the country to transfer all of the acquired knowledge gained by the telecommunications industry to the next generation of tower workers.
The telecommunications industry continues to expand which means that ever more people will be needed as tower workers. This work is incredibly dangerous and, while the telecommunications industry continues to expand, absolutely necessary. Be sure to take advantage of these various safety programs.