Over the last few decades, work on communication towers has exploded. Before the 1980s, there was only a small, specialized industry of workers who erected, serviced and maintained broadcast and communication towers. Now, with a cellphone in every pocket, communication towers are everywhere.
The workers who build, maintain and service these towers are not only legion, but they are also faced with dangers that didn’t exist in the past. According to OSHA, today’s communication towers can require a climb of 2,000 feet or more. That climb typically involves a fixed ladder but could also traverse support structures and step bolts. Moreover, workers climb the outdoor towers all year round.
Unfortunately, fatal accidents are all too common. In 2013, OSHA was notified of 13 deaths of communication tower workers. There were 12 in 2014, three in 2015 and six in 2016. The agency is currently working with stakeholders to find out why these accidents happen and what can be done to reduce the risk.
Here is a list of seven of the more frequent hazards communication tower workers encounter:
- Falls from heights
- Hazards from hoisting equipment
- Hazards from falling objects
- Inclement weather hazards
- Electrical hazards
- Equipment failures
- Tower collapse
Workers injured on communication towers are eligible for workers’ compensation
As always, it’s important to know that injured workers generally have the right to workers’ comp benefits regardless of who was at fault. As long as you were working, you should be covered by workers’ compensation, which can provide payment for lost wages, medical care and disability. There may also be death benefits available to a surviving spouse or dependent children of those who have died.
An accident on a communication tower could be deadly or disabling. If you have sustained a disability that will last for a year or longer, you may also be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Talk to an experienced attorney about how workers’ comp and Social Security Disability affect one another.