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Communication tower work hazards

Photo: CharlieChesvick/iStockphoto

Falling from height, electrical hazards, inclement weather, equipment failure and structural collapse of towers are some of the hazards that communication tower workers face, according to OSHA. The agency recorded 13 communication tower-related fatalities in 2013, 12 in 2014, three in 2015 and six in 2016.

What tower climbers and ground crews need to know

OSHA states that tower climbers and ground crew employees should know how to properly report unsafe working conditions, use safety equipment and stop work completely if necessary safety equipment is unavailable or malfunctioning. Other safety precautions from the agency:

  • Workers should certify their commitment to “100 percent tie-off” every year. This is a firm commitment that workers will tie-off at every worksite at all times when climbing.
  • Before climbing work begins, comprehensive safety planning should take place, including a Job Hazard Analysis and an emergency action plan.
  • Workers never should perform climbing work if the weather poses safety risks.
  • Workers never should work at height if their physical or mental health is impaired (for example, if a worker is taking over-the-counter medication that causes drowsiness).
  • Tower climbers and ground crew personnel should perform regular safety stand-downs and seek regular training to keep safety skills sharp.
  • Workers should ensure tools, hoisting and rigging equipment, and other machinery is in good working condition.

According to OSHA, carrier and tower owner responsibilities include establishing an incident reporting system with “a clearly defined, streamlined process for responding to incidents in a timely manner” and creating a standard protocol that ensures all employees report unsafe conditions on tower worksites to the carrier and tower owner.

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