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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:

  • Falls from great heights
  • Electrical hazards
  • Hazards associated with hoisting personnel and equipment with base-mounted drum hoists
  • Inclement weather
  • Falling object hazards
  • Equipment failure
  • Structural collapse of towers

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.

Compliance Assistance

Standards

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Federal Registers

Resources

Training
  • FCC and DOL announce wireless apprenticeship program (PDF). The Wireless Infrastructure Association is orchestrating the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP). DOL/FCC Factsheet.

Recent Citations

Incident Investigations

Communications Tower

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.

Construction Incidents Investigation Engineering Reports

Additional Information

Share your story with us

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 oshacommtower@dol.gov.

For immediate response, please call 1-800-321-OSHA(6742).

What's New

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Blog

Articles

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:

  • Perez: The Cell Phones in our Pockets Shouldn't Come at the Expense of Workers' Lives. EHS Today, (2014, October 20).
  • New rules would protect cell tower workers. The Hill, (2014, October 14).
  • FCC, Labor team to save tower workers' lives. Broadcasting & Cable, (2014, October 14).
  • Department of Labor, FCC announce wireless apprenticeship program. RCR Wireless News, (2014, October 14).

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Construction at (202) 693-2020.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

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