Telecommunications workers risk fatal tower falls, other hazards

Having a cellphone or smartphone is pretty much a necessity for many people — and a coveted item for many others. Unfortunately, all that convenience may be coming at a…

Having a cellphone or smartphone is pretty much a necessity for many people — and a coveted item for many others. Unfortunately, all that convenience may be coming at a price you didn’t expect. Over the last two years, OSHA reports that 25 workers have died at communication tower sites and many more have been injured. Those injury and fatality rates jumped suddenly over previous years, so OSHA has a special project in place aimed at reducing the risk to those who build, repair and maintain cellphone towers and equipment.

What are the risks of working on or around cellphone towers?

The obvious risk is falling. Cellphone towers range from about 100 feet in height to as tall as 1,000 or 2,000 feet, and climbing them can be hazardous. Workers are required to climb them in all sorts of weather — if only because the weather caused a problem. Access to the working parts of the tower might involve climbing a ladder affixed to the outside of the tower — or just a series of step bolts. It might not involve actual climbing, but instead being lifted in a base-mounted drum hoist, but hoists are associated with their own hazards.

Without the appropriate fall-prevention architecture and personal protective equipment, a rusty step bolt, a slippery rung or a faulty hoist component could cause a fatal accident.

Electrical hazards and electrocution are also common because communications towers are full of electronic equipment that must be handled safely in an area where movement is limited and the wires and components may be exposed to the weather.

Structural collapse can be a problem with telecommunication towers, as age and exposure to the elements can weaken the structure.

Workers on the ground being hit by fallen objects is another common, yet potentially fatal, occurrence. If dropped tool or a broken tower component comes hurtling toward the ground from a height of around 10 stories or more, it could easily kill someone standing in just the wrong spot.

Of course, we hope telecommunications workers are never asked to work on or around cellphone towers without a full and effective fall protection program in place, but OSHA’s focus on the issue may indicate otherwise. If you or a loved one has been injured, consider contacting a workers’ compensation attorney about your options.

Allegedly drunk cops hit Pennsylvania flour truck head-on, 2 dead

Last weekend, a group of off-duty police from Linden, New Jersey, and a friend were on their way home from an evening at a strip club. According to reports, the…

Last weekend, a group of off-duty police from Linden, New Jersey, and a friend were on their way home from an evening at a strip club. According to reports, the officer driving that car had earlier posted a photo on Instagram showing three shot glasses he captioned, “Jack Daniels Fire on the house.”

That may explain why the man’s car was later caught headed the wrong direction on the West Shore Expressway on Staten Island just before 5:00 a.m. Unfortunately, it’s only too common for intoxicated drivers to become confused and drive against the flow of traffic, and this time it led to tragedy. The car with the off-duty officers and their friend smashed head-on into a tractor-trailer for Snavely’s Mill, a northeastern Pennsylvania flour processor.

Two of the four men in the car were killed. The driver and the fourth passenger were critically injured. The 33-year-old tractor-trailer driver was injured, as well, although an NYPD spokesperson gave no details except to say he had been treated and released.

A blood-alcohol test has been performed on the driver of the car, but the results weren’t in as of this posting. The man’s boss, the Linden Police Chief, said it was premature to speculate on the cause of the accident, adding, “We were all young once and I’m sure we’ve all done stupid things in our life.”

The driver was 27. The passengers were 28, 28 and 23.

There is hardly a greater recipe for disaster than a drunk driver hitting a commercial truck head-on. Now, two men are dead, two others are injured critically, and one whose injuries are unclear. Sadly, they and their families are now left with both emotional and financial issues they may be dealing with for years.

Source: Lancaster Online, “Manheim truck driver injured in wrong-way accident caused by off-duty N.J. cops returning from strip club,” Cindy Stauffer, March 22. 2015