May 222012
Print Friendly

Workers on cell towers have 10 times the fatality rate of construction workers.

from ProPublica and Frontline

An analysis of every US cell tower-related fatality since 2003 found that tower climbing has a death rate roughly 10 times that of construction, making it one of the most dangerous jobs in America. AT&T, in particular, had the worst track record with more fatalities on its subcontracted jobs than its three closest competitors combined.

ProPublica's Liz Day and PBS Frontline's Ryan Knutson report that tower climber deaths peaked between 2006 and 2008 when AT&T became the exclusive carrier for the iPhone and merged its network with Cingular.

"We found in accident after accident, deadly missteps often resulted because climbers were shoddily equipped or received little training before being sent up hundreds of feet," Day and Knutson write. "To satisfy demands from carriers or large contractors, tower hands sometimes worked overnight or in dangerous conditions."

However, if you look up the major cell carriers in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's database of workplace accident investigations, you will not find a single tower climber fatality listed. Due to the high-risk nature of the job, cell phone carriers typically outsource to subcontractors in order to keep costs under control and help insulate themselves from the legal and regulatory consequences. And even though tower climbers typically earn no more than $10 an hour, some subcontracting companies still demand that they pay for their own safety gear.

  Men Who Climb Towers Pay With Their Lives

© Copyright 2012 ProPublica, All rights Reserved. Written For:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.