OSHA Issues New Directive to Keep Communication Tower Workers Safe

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has updated its Communication Tower directive regarding the use of hoist systems used to move workers to and from workstations on communication towers. The movement follows a dramatic increase in preventable injuries and fatalities in the industry.

More fatalities involving communication tower workers occurred in 2013 than in the previous two years combined. There have been nine deaths so far in 2014.

The directive will ensure that communication tower workers are protected regardless of the type of work they are performing. Employers and cell tower owners and operators are required to make sure workers are properly trained and protected.

The directive outlines the proper use of hoist and other fall arrest systems and includes information on how to hoist other workers safely. The new directive is an update to the 2002 enforcement policy, which only covered hoisting workings to workstations during new tower erection activities. The updated policy will including both maintenance and new construction of communication towers.

OSHA is collaborating with the National Association of Tower  Erectors and other industry stakeholders to ensure that every communication tower employer understands how to protect workers performing this high-hazard work.

OSHA sent a letter to communication tower employers urging them to comply with the new safety standards.

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