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Is need for Wi-Fi speed contributing to workplace dangers?

That cellphone that your hand is seemingly glued to doesn't just work by means of magic. A lot of work goes into the convenience of a cellphone and its services. Unfortunately, the consistent upgrades in the name of Internet speed and signal strength are taking a toll on workplace safety.

The Wall Street Journal reports that OSHA is taking notice and action regarding the increased rate of fatal work accidents in a certain cellphone-related field. To improve the speed and overall service of the public's phone service, tower workers are necessary. Those workers need better protection from falls and other accidents.

OSHA has sent letters out to parties involved in the "cell tower industry." The term is in quotes because it is important to identify who specifically is part of the cell tower industry. Of course, there are the individuals who physically climb up the towers and their direct employers.

Those workers tend to be subcontractors and, therefore, somewhat disconnected to service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc. But that, according to OSHA and worker safety advocates, doesn't absolve the cell service providers of liability when a tower worker gets injured on-the-job.

Last year, 13 cell tower workers were killed in workplace accidents. Most of those incidents were falls, though height isn't the only danger that tower workers face. Whether it is the hazard of height, electrical currents or falling debris, employers have a duty to provide proper safety equipment, training and supervision to their workers to prevent work injuries and death.

With the increase in cell tower worker accidents last year, this specific industry is likely to remain in the limelight of workers' compensation conversations. We will post an update when there is a development regarding cell phone service providers and their role in protecting tower workers.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "OSHA Warns Companies After Rise in Cellphone Tower Deaths," Ryan Knutson and Melanie Trottman, Feb. 10, 2014

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Eley Law Firm
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