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Regulators want change following fatal accidents at cell towers

Many workers in West Virginia face difficult and dangerous working environments on a daily basis. While some dangers are inherent to certain types of work, employers have an obligation to take reasonable measures to mitigate these dangers. In some industries, like construction or mining, state or federal regulations dictate the kinds of safety procedures that employers and employees must follow while on the job.

One line of work that is extremely dangerous is cellular phone tower maintenance. In 2013 alone, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported that 13 workers died while servicing cell phone towers. In February of this year, a fatal accident at a tower in West Virginia resulted in the death of two workers and a firefighter who was responding to the emergency.

A representative from OSHA sent a letter to industry participants highlighting the importance of worker safety. In addition, he stressed that the industry must take steps to address the safety problems. Although small subcontracting businesses do the bulk of the work on cell phone towers, OSHA has made it clear that it plans to closely examine the large companies that own the towers and provide cell phone networks to customers.

Regardless of the particular industry in question, employers may be legally accountable if their negligence leads to a fatal workplace accident. For example, failing to adhere to safety regulations may be evidence of the employer's negligence. Under West Virginia law, family members of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim.

Cell phone tower workers are at a higher risk of death or serious injury than are workers in many other industries. However, no worker should have to fear for their life because their employer decides to cut corners when it comes to safety.

Source: Fierce Wireless, "Cell tower worker death prompt federal regulators to scrutinize industry more closely," Phil Goldstein, April 1, 2014

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