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Recent Deaths Put Spotlight on Fall Protection

Julie Copeland

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Just over a month ago, a maintenance worker fell to his death from a cell tower in Texas. TheArbill supports OSHA's focus on fall protection. next day, a cell phone tower collapsed in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Minutes later a second tower at the same site also fell. The collapse of these two towers resulted in the deaths of two workers and a firefighter responding to the scene, and sent two other employees to the hospital with serious injuries.

The reality of dangers in the workplace is that they don’t just go away. New technologies and opportunities are pushing organizations to grow in different ways. Unfortunately, sometimes that push to do more does not fully explore all safety concerns, which could have tragic results.

In the case of the cell tower incidents, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is collaborating with the National Association of Tower Erectors and other industry stakeholders to ensure that every communication tower employer understands their responsibility to protect workers performing this high-hazard work.

Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health, shared the following thought: "Tower worker deaths cannot be the price we pay for increased wireless communication. Employers and cell tower owners and operators must do everything possible to stop these senseless, preventable tragedies."

It’s no secret that OSHA is focused and concerned about the increase in preventable injuries and fatalities at communication tower worksites. As reported by OSHA in 2013, thirteen fatalities occurred in this industry, more than in the previous two years combined. This disturbing trend appears to be continuing, with the four worker deaths occurring in the first five weeks of 2014. In an effort to prevent these tragic incidents, OSHA is increasing its focus on tower safety. OSHA has created a new Web page targeting the issues surrounding communication tower work, which is available at http://www.osha.gov/doc/topics/communicationtower/index.html.

Of the 13 communication tower-related fatalities that occurred in 2013, the majority were a result of falls. OSHA requires employers to provide adequate fall protection equipment, train employees how to use the safety equipment and ensure that they use it properly and consistently. In the past few months, tower workers have also been injured or killed by falling objects, the structural collapse of towers and equipment failures.

Like OSHA, Arbill is committed to working with organizations to prevent these injuries and fatalities, and ensure that communication tower workers and all workers that deal with potential fall hazards are adequately protected.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 65% of fall-related injuries occur as a result of falls from same-level walking surfaces. While same-level falls are more common, elevated falls are often the most serious and cause more severe injuries. Over 60% of all elevated falls are from a height of less than 10 feet.

Reportedly, more than one million Americans suffer a slip, trip, and fall injury every year. An estimated 20–30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries. Slips, trips and fall accidents can also cause other complications including: Death, Incapacitation, Broken bones and fractures, Long-term medical complications, Head trauma and Spinal cord injuries.

Our Mission is to help every worker make it home safely. At Arbill, we take slips, trips and falls very seriously, especially since 15% of all accidental deaths and 12-15% of all Workers’ Compensation expenses are attributable to slips, trips and falls costing employers approximately $40,000 per incident.

Your Arbill representative can help assess your locations for workplace hazards and help build a Culture of Safety in your organization. To learn more how you can protect your workers from slips, trips and falls, and other serious workplace hazards, contact us or visit our website.

Have a safe day!

Topics: Arbill, culture of safety, fatal, accident prevention, workplace safety, preventing slips trips and falls, Fall protection

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