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OSHA looks into worker deaths in the communication tower industry


Whenever North Carolina residents drop a call and complain about their cellphone service, hoping that their network carrier will upgrade their network, they may not be aware of the risks involved in the actual process of upgrading. In fact, it is possible that the communication tower industry may be one of the deadliest in the country, given the relatively small size of the industry and the fact that 10 construction workers have already died in fall accidents since the beginning of this year. A 49-year-old North Carolina worker was among the fatalities reported this year, dying as a result of injuries sustained after falling almost 200 feet from a cellphone tower.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration actually declared that climbing cell towers was one of the most dangerous jobs in the country after 18 cell tower workers died in work accidents in 2008. This year again the number of fatalities has drawn attention from federal regulators and many hope tighter regulations will follow. In fact, as OSHA investigates each incident to determine how to address safety concerns, it is also going to look into the part cellphone carriers play and if their contracts stipulating tight deadlines cause these accidents.

According to construction managers, the increase in competitiveness among cellphone carriers has created a demand for crews making it impossible for them to take time off -- according to one project manager, workers are working approximately 16-hour-days, causing exhaustion that may lead to distraction on the job and contributing to construction workers accidents.

North Carolina construction workers injured on the job may be able to file a workers' compensation claim with their employer to recover compensation for their medical expenses and replace lost wages. If a worker passes away as a result of their injuries, their family may be able to file a claim on their behalf. Though nothing can replace the loss they have suffered, a workers' compensation claim may ease the financial burden that accompanies losing the breadwinner of the family.

Source: The Legal Examiner, "Recent building boom in cellphone industry leads to spike in workplace deaths," Randy Appleton, Sept. 15, 2013

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