Over the past 30 years, the growing demand for wireless and broadcast communications has spurred a dramatic increase in communication tower construction and maintenance -- and in workers climbing towers as tall as 2,000 feet.

Employees tasked with erecting or maintaining communication towers use fixed ladders, support structures or step bolts to climb the towers, which they do throughout the year, in all kinds of weather conditions.

Falls not the only hazard

Some of the more frequently encountered hazards include:

  • Falls from great heights
  • Electrical hazards
  • Hazards associated with hoisting personnel and equipment with base-mounted drum hoists
  • Inclement weather
  • Falling object hazards
  • Equipment failure
  • Structural collapse of towers

Fatalities fluctuate

In 2013, OSHA recorded a total number of 13 communication tower-related fatalities. In 2014, there were 12 fatalities at communication tower worksites. In 2015, there were a total of 3 fatalities. There were 6 fatalities in 2016. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders to identify the causes of these injuries and fatalities, and to reduce the risks faced by employees in the communication tower industry.