Tower industry deaths simply should not happen

July 19th, 2018

Already in 2014, 4 families have been devastated by the death of a loved one who was working on a wireless tower. In response to this, OSHA has issued a letter to tower industry employers which we have copied below

Only 11 days ago on February 1, 2014, three men were killed in Clarkesburg, West Virginia when two towers collapsed:

32 year-old Kyle Kirkpatrick, and 27 year-old Terry Lee Richard, Jr., both of Oklahoma, were killed, as well as 28 year-old Michael Garrett, of the Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department.
Kirkpatrick and Richard were killed when the first tower collapsed as they were making repairs to it. Garrett was killed trying to help the patients when a second tower collapsed.  Investigators said the second tower was weakened by the collapse of the first tower. (source: WDTV.COM 5 News)

OSHA focuses on protecting communication tower industry employees after increase in worksite fatalities

February 10, 2014

Dear Communication Tower Industry Employer:

In recent months, the communication tower industry has experienced an alarming increase in worker deaths. In 2013, 13 workers in the industry were killed at communication tower worksites. This is more worker deaths than in the previous two years combined. Four more workers have been killed in the first weeks of 2014.

Every single one of these tragedies was preventable.

OSHA is aware that there has been acceleration in communication tower work during the past year due to cellular infrastructure upgrades, and the Agency is concerned about the possibility of future incidents, especially when the hazardous work is done by employees of subcontractors. It is imperative that the cell tower industry take steps immediately to address this pressing issue: no worker should risk death for a paycheck.

OSHA has found that a high proportion of these incidents occurred because of a lack of fall protection: either employers are not providing appropriate fall protection to employees, or they are not ensuring that their employees use fall protection properly. As a result, communication tower climbers are falling to their deaths. In addition to falls, workers face other hazards in the field. In the past few months, tower workers have been injured and killed by falling objects, equipment failure, and the structural collapse of towers. While these incidents are not as frequent as falls, they are very real hazards to protect against.

I am writing to remind you that it is your responsibility to prevent workers from being injured or killed while working on communication towers. All employers, especially those employers in high-risk industries such as communication tower operations, have a responsibility to recognize and prevent workplace hazards.

In order to safeguard employee safety and health:

Prior to their initial assignments, it is critical for newly hired workers to be adequately trained and monitored to ensure that safe work practices are learned and followed.
As required under the OSH Act, when working on existing communication towers, employees must be provided with appropriate fall protection, trained to use this fall protection properly, and the use of fall protection must be consistently supervised and enforced by the employer. Fall hazards are obvious and well known, and OSHA will consider issuing willful citations, in appropriate cases, for a failure to provide and use fall protection. States with their own occupational safety and health plans may have additional requirements. A full list of State plans is available at