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The growth of the cell phone industry means the need for more cell tower installations, along with frequent upgrades and repairs to more than 280,000 cell towers across the country.
Tower climbers build, maintain and repair the towers – replacing cables, antennas and other network gear, inspecting and ensuring everything is working properly. To do this, they scale towers up to 500 feet, sometimes more, in height.
Inclement weather, the physical demands of climbing and hauling tools and equipment, and aging towers make this work dangerous on a day-to-day basis. In fact, this industry’s workers have a death rate roughly 10 times that of construction workers.
David Michaels, former assistant labor secretary, was quoted in this article as saying, “Tower workers have a risk of fatal injury perhaps 25 to 30 times higher than the risk for the average American worker.”
Since cell tower walkers work at great heights, injuries suffered tend to be catastrophic, often resulting in fatalities. The majority killed or injured have been a victim of a fall. Other hazards include electrocution, being hit by falling objects, equipment failure, bad weather and even the expansion of the cellular networks.
According to this May 2018 article, “Workers on communications towers are falling to their deaths doing work required by the Federal Communications Commission to help expand cell phone and wireless service in our country.”
An accident may involve a third party (or multiple third parties) meaning you may have a personal injury claim and not just a workman’s compensation claim. For instance, accidents could be due to:
Liability can be difficult to ascertain. Just because a tower walker was injured working on a tower for a phone carrier such as AT&T does not mean the phone carrier is liable for his/her injuries. Most carriers outsource this work to contractors who may be outsourcing to subcontractors. It can be a confusing mess. Jobs are passed from one company to another.
Another complication is in determining if the tower worker is a contractor or employee and if he/she will receive workman’s comp or not.
Each case is different. If you are a cell tower worker who has been hurt on the job or if you have lost a loved one to an accident, seek the services of a personal injury attorney experienced in these kinds of accidents.
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