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 2014, there were 12 fatalities at communication tower worksites. In 2015, there were a total of 3 fatalities. There were 6 fatalities in 2016. 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.
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