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OSHA Cell Phone Tower Fall Protection Enforcement

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Last month, we did a post on the rising number of fatal falls sustained by workers in the cell phone tower industry.  OSHA is stepping up outreach and enforcement efforts in an attempt to encourage use of fall protection equipment and to stem the tide of worker fatalities.  Sadly, OSHA’s push to create safer working conditions failed to save the life of 25 year old man who was fatally injured when he fell 50 feet from a communications tower last fall near Witchita, Kansas.

This month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Optica Network Technologies, which operates as Pinpoint Towers LLC, with three serious safety violations as a result of the accident.  OSHA issues serious violations when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The serious citations allege that Pinpoint Towers failed to ensure fall protection was maintained at all times while employees traversed the communication tower and that company safety managers did not conduct a comprehensive job hazard assessment to include fall protection methods prior to employees traversing the tower. Finally, OSHA has learned the company failed to provide documentation that the hazard assessment had been completed and did not provide adequate fall protection training to workers.  OSHA is proposing fines of $21,000. The company has no previous history of OSHA violations.

As we move toward warmer weather throughout much of the country, tower maintenance and construction activities are sure to pick up, and without the proper training and fall protection equipment in place, we can expect more accidents.  OSHA plans to continue increased enforcement efforts nationwide.  If looking after the health and well-being of your employees isn’t a good enough reason to increase safety standards at your job-sites, hopefully the prospect of an OSHA fine will prompt a greater culture of safety within your company.  Do you have concerns about worker safety, training, or the effectiveness of your fall protection systems?  If so, contact the safety specialists at Diversified Fall Protection for a no-obligation consultation.

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It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe, OSHA compliant work environment for all workers?