Alarmingly High Fatality Rate for Tower Climbers Goes Unnoticed
In 2009, 4,551 workers were killed on the job. When you combine the victims of traumatic work-related injuries with the estimated 50,000 people who die annually of work-related diseases, the number is mind boggling.
Recently ProPublica and Frontline examined increases of deaths among cell-phone tower construction and maintenance workers which they believe were caused by the push for faster and better data networks. Between 2003 and 2011, 50 climbers died working on cell-phone sites and there were approximately 100 who were killed while working on communication towers. There has been little publicity over the alarming increase in these types of deaths. Frequently this type of work is outsourced to subcontractors because of its danger, which is a practice increasingly common in these types of risky businesses, including electric transmission lines, coal mining, and drilling for oil and gas. Many of these deaths were caused by inadequate training, improper equipment or protective gear, long working hours, and dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, because of the increasing competition and demand for cell phones, this trend will seemingly continue.
Many of our workers here in West Virginia and the surrounding areas are engaged in similarly dangerous job activities. Because of this, we must demand that the corporations that transact business here in West Virginia do whatever it takes to ensure a safe working environment for their workers. Far too many West Virginia families have already needlessly lost a father, brother, or uncle to a workplace accident.