Prior to the 1980s, communication and broadcast tower erection, servicing and maintenance was a very small and highly specialized industry. Over the past 30 years, the growing demand for wireless and broadcast communications has spurred a dramatic increase in communication tower construction and maintenance.
In order to erect or maintain communication towers, employees regularly climb towers, using fixed ladders, support structures or step bolts, from 100 feet to heights in excess of 1000 or 2000 feet. Employees climb towers throughout the year, including during inclement weather conditions.
Some of the more frequently encountered hazards include:
In 2013, OSHA recorded a total number of 13 communication tower-related fatalities. In the first half of 2014, there have already been nine fatalities at communication tower worksites. This represents a significant increase in fatalities and injuries from previous years, and OSHA is concerned at this trend. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders to identify the causes of these injuries and fatalities, and to reduce the risks faced by employees in the communication tower industry.
Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)
General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
The following communications tower incidents have been investigated by OSHA. Most of them were reported to OSHA, or OSHA learned about them from news reports, etc. There have been tower incidents that OSHA did not investigate because they were not reported to OSHA as required.
If you want to share information with OSHA about communication tower safety such as a best practice, good contract language, or a safer work method, please send your email to email@example.com.
For immediate response, please call 1-800-321-OSHA(6742).
US DOL – FCC joint Event on communication tower safety and apprenticeship.
Several articles were compiled on the joint FCC and OSHA effort to protect cell tower workers including the following:
*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020 for assistance accessing PDF materials.
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