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FACEValue: Tower climbers killed when cell tower collapses; firefighter dies in rescue attempt

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Case report: #2015-02
Issued by: West Virginia Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE)
Date of incident: Feb. 1, 2014

On the day of the incident, two tower climbers were killed when a 340-foot cellular tower collapsed during upgrading and construction activities. As the tower fell, it contacted guy wires to a second tower, causing that tower to become unstable. The first tower fell to the ground, with a section of it landing on top of the small building on the site. The four workers on the tower were thrown to the ground and suffered traumatic injuries. The two victims who suffered fatal injuries died either instantly or within a few seconds after the tower collapsed. The other two victims were hospitalized. In addition, a firefighter was fatally injured while trying to rescue one of the injured tower climbers when the weakened second tower collapsed.

To help prevent similar incidents:

  • Consult with a qualified engineer to conduct a structural analysis before workers are assigned tasks related to tower maintenance or upgrading.
  • Develop a written rigging plan based on the guidelines established in American National Standards Institute/Telecommunication Industry Association (ANSI/TIA-1019-A-2012).
  • Train workers on hazard recognition and prevention.
  • Conduct a job hazard analysis and develop standard operating procedures for each tower climb in which workers are assigned tasks.
  • Train communication tower workers on the proper use of tower climbing anchor points and fall protection equipment.

To download the full report, go to cdc.gov/niosh/face/pdfs/full201502.pdf.

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