The high rate of accidents and injuries on communication towers is “unacceptable,” according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administrator David Michaels. Michaels issued his remarks at the National Association of Tower Erectors’ conference, which took place February 24-27, and he stressed the need for proper safety precautions related to communication towers.
According to Michaels, more communication tower workers were killed in 2013 than in the previous two years combined, and to date four communication tower workers have been killed in 2014.
OSHA is particularly concerned about the increase given that the industry already has an extremely high fatality rate. In fact, communication tower workers have a risk of fatal injury that is 25 to 30 times higher than the risk for the average American worker.
In an effort to reduce the number of communication worker deaths, OSHA is reaching out to educate the industry and its workers, including providing small business consultations. OSHA is also increasing its enforcement efforts within the industry. Specifically, OSHA plans to perform more inspections at communication towers and to issue a revised communication tower directive instructing field staff on how to enforce safety standards.
Most communication tower fatalities are caused by falls. Because OSHA has found that many of the workers killed were wearing harnesses that were not tied off, it is reminding employers of their responsibility to train workers and ensure that their communication tower crews are adequately protected by “reinforcing their own safety policies, training, and re-training workers, and making sure subcontractors follow all safety rules.”
Injured workers are generally entitled to worker’s compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Illinois worker’s compensation laws requires employers to provide injured employees with benefits, including medical/rehabilitative expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits if the employee is unable to work temporarily or permanently. If a worker is killed in a work-related accident, his or her family is generally entitled to death benefits.
Additionally, depending on the circumstances of the accident, injured workers may be entitled to pursue a third party cause of action if someone other than the employer was responsible for the accident. For instance, if the communication tower was improperly manufactured or installed, the injured worker may have a cause of action against the tower manufacturer. While workers’ compensation law prohibits workers from suing their employer for workplace injuries, injured construction and tower workers may have a personal injury lawsuit against other parties who share responsibility for the accident, such as the manufacturer of defective equipment, the general contractor, or another subcontractor.
If you have been injured in a communication tower accident, the attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC can help you get the workers’ compensations benefits and personal injury damages you deserve. Contact us today at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago workplace accident attorneys.