Fatal falls are a big problem for cell tower workers, but a new national program will try to reverse this trend and save cell tower technicians’ lives. The Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, which was developed with the help of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Labor (DoL) and AT&T (to only name a few), is now up and running with the purpose of training cell tower workers so they can stay as safe as possible while working.
The focus of this Program is to ensure that cell tower workers have the skills and training they need to prevent fatal falls and other accidents in the field. While this Program will be involved in training newly hired workers, it will reportedly also conduct ongoing training to ensure that cell tower workers’ skills are always as sharp and up to date as possible.
“The cellphones in our pockets can’t come at the cost of a worker’s life,” explained U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez during a recent OSHA event to commemorate this new Apprenticeship Program. “The cell tower industry might be small, with 10,000 to 15,000 workers, but it’s quickly proving to be one of the most dangerous. If we don’t do something now, the number of fatalities is going to grow as fast as the industry does.”
Data from OSHA indicates that that the rate of fatal falls among cell tower workers seems to have been on the rise over the past few years. In fact, while there were only 2 reports of cell tower workers sustaining fatal falls in 2012, in 2013 and 2014, there were 13 and 11 fatal falls for cell tower technicians (respectively).
As Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels has explained:
The fatality rate in this industry is extraordinarily high – tower workers are more than 10 times as likely to be killed on the job as construction workers… but these deaths are preventable. OSHA has developed a comprehensive initiative to ensure that safer working conditions and best practices are not just recommendations, but the law of the land. We look forward to the help FCC and industry can provide in making this a reality.
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