OSHA has issued a specific warning to the communications  tower industry on its safety practices. 

The industry has had four fatalities this year and 13 deaths  in 2013 at communication tower worksites, OSHA chief Dr.  David Michaels noted in a February 10th letter to some  100 members of the National Association of Tower  Erectors.  This is many more deaths than occurred in the  previous two years combined.

“I am writing to remind you that it is your responsibility to  prevent workers from being injured or killed while working  on communication towers,” Michaels said.  Most fatalities  have resulted from falls, indicating no fall protection is  being offered or employers are not assuring protection is  being used properly. In addition, tower workers have been  injured and killed by falling objects, equipment failure and  the structural collapse of towers, according to Michaels.

He offered suggestions for improvement, including providing proper training, especially regarding fall prevention and monitoring to assure safe work practices  are being followed.  “OSHA will consider issuing willful  citations, in appropriate cases, for a failure to provide and  use fall protection,” he warned.  

He added that employers should select contractors  carefully and provide close oversight.  “Simple ‘check the  box’ contract language” may not be enough to assure  contractors work safely, he stated.  Inspectors will pay  particular attention to contract oversight issues, including  identifying all potentially responsible parties in the  contracting chain.

“For the sake of your employees and your business, I  strongly urge you to do everything you can to prevent  these needless injuries and deaths before anyone else is  hurt, and before OSHA issues additional financial  penalties,” Michaels said.