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Rush to Deploy LTE Causing More Tower Deaths
by Karl Bode 04:26PM Tuesday Aug 27 2013
The rush to complete LTE deployments ahead of competitors has resulted in a significant spike in the deaths of wireless tower workers. Wireless tower technicians have long had one of the most deadly occupations when tracking the death rate per 100,000 employees, and these spikes as upgrade deployment projects accelerate are unfortunately not uncommon. 10 workers have died in falls so far this year, with four falls so far this month. A source tells the Wall Street Journal that OSHA is taking a "broad new approach to policing the tower-climbing business, ncluding taking a closer look at the role cell carriers play in accidents."

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IPPlanMan
Holy Cable Modem Batman

join:2000-09-20
Washington, DC
kudos:1

Terrible news...

Terrible news to hear. Condolences to the families.

Sprint's in a rush with LTE? Couldn't have fooled me.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Terrible news...

said by IPPlanMan:

Terrible news to hear. Condolences to the families.

Sprint's in a rush with LTE? Couldn't have fooled me.

I doubt rushing is causing more deaths. More likely just the total amount of work on towers this year means more workers are at risk. I'd like to see a stat like number of tower deaths per total hours worked while on the tower.
--
"If you want to anger a conservative lie to him.
If you want to anger a liberal tell him the truth."
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

Re: Terrible news...

Agreed.

Right now you have all four carriers putting new equipment online. AT&T for LTE in at least three different bands (lower 700, AWS, CLR). Verizon for both upper-700c and AWS, depending on the area. Sprint for both phases of Network Vision (initial 800/1900, then 2500/2600). T-Mobile for its PCS H+ and LTE, though they don't have a lot left to do.

I don't think there's been this much tower climbing activity in the US, ever.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

Some things you can't rush...

...time to fine the crap out of the companies failing to enforce safe climbing rules, deaths due to failure of the correct equipment, used properly are almost non existent, and the providers/network operators need to hire qualified contractors or be held accountable, if we can blame target and walmart and apple to answer for the actions of their contractors and sub-contractors overseas we can do a lot better right here at home.

Time to be sure osha and their state counterparts are fully funded, with enough TRAINED inspectors to go around at the expense of high risk businesses.
LTE4LIFE

join:2013-02-28

Re: Some things you can't rush...

these workers that died probably aren't even qualified to climb towers. I wouldn't be a bit surprised that these are the same kind of people that love riding around on motorcycles with no helmets. I wonder if any of these workers that died were using safety harnesses?!? Probably not!!

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Some things you can't rush...

Probably quite a few aren't or are using a single lanyard rather than 2 (positive attachment, one is ALWAYS connected)
Part of the problem is climbers are often paid per job, so moving fast means more money per day, or able to bid a bit cheaper.
sounds good while you think you're invulnerable, less so when you're flying.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

1 recommendation

Re: Some things you can't rush...

That's the problem. They are using sub-contractors and sub-sub-contractors. They should work like the wireline side, with a Union so that only the Union guys with company equipment adhering to strict rules and procedures could go up the towers. Without a union, they can hire any yahoos to do it, and this is what you get... My company does work far off the ground, 50+ feet above concrete. Our workers don't fall, and don't die. There are very strict rules and procedures regarding OSHA compliance, if you're more than 6 feet off the ground, you have to have fall protection. That includes guys in JLG lifts and the like.
eco
Premium
join:2001-11-28
Wilmington, DE

1 recommendation

Re: Some things you can't rush...

Can't believe a whole 35 minutes has passed since you posted this and some knuckle-dragger hasn't posted a rant about how terrible unions are.
sonicmerlin

join:2009-05-24
Cleveland, OH
kudos:1

Re: Some things you can't rush...

said by eco:

Can't believe a whole 35 minutes has passed since you posted this and some knuckle-dragger hasn't posted a rant about how terrible unions are.

I'm more amazed that BiggA is arguing *for* unions. Never thought I'd see the day.
WhatNow
Premium
join:2009-05-06
Charlotte, NC
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Re: Some things you can't rush...

BiggA is right about the sub-sub-sub contractors whether they are Union or not. The carriers pay a good price but after the companies that only find contractors to do the work take their cut there is very little left for the contractor that actually do the the work to pay their climbers and think about a profit. The other problem is they drive for hours to get from one job to another and then climb in what ever the weather happens to be when they get on site. The individual climbers hardly make anything after they pay for their expenses on the job. This problem would disappear if there was only one contractor for each project.

The carriers want this separation so they don't get sued when things go wrong.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: Some things you can't rush...

Yeah, there was a Frontline thing about that. It's ridiculous how they do it. I was suggesting Unions for the sake of protecting the work, as then it couldn't be subbed out, and it would be Union guys who work for the actual company doing the jobs. They would be hourly employees with negotiated benefits, and everything else, just like the linemen who maintain copper. They could work long hours to get LTE deployments done, but they would have to be paid OT, and still have to follow proper safety protocol. If these guys were always properly tied off with the right harnesses and ties, these tower deaths would be nearly unheard of.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH
Why? I generally like Unions. I work with Union guys at work a lot.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
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Sounds exactly like the same reason the DOT dislikes trucking firms that pay drivers by the load. Encourages drivers to drive unsafe, fudge records, etc just to squeeze in more loads.
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jester121
Premium
join:2003-08-09
Lake Zurich, IL
said by tshirt:

Time to be sure osha and their state counterparts are fully funded, with enough TRAINED inspectors to go around at the expense of high risk businesses.

Coming soon -- bitter complaints about carriers raising prices. Unintended consequences are a bitch.
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: Some things you can't rush...

SHHH - You just found a new fee for carriers

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
I intend that USERS pay the cost of their service, including work place safety for those constructing it.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness
said by tshirt:

...time to fine the crap out of the companies failing to enforce safe climbing rules, deaths due to failure of the correct equipment, used properly are almost non existent, and the providers/network operators need to hire qualified contractors or be held accountable, if we can blame target and walmart and apple to answer for the actions of their contractors and sub-contractors overseas we can do a lot better right here at home.

Time to be sure osha and their state counterparts are fully funded, with enough TRAINED inspectors to go around at the expense of high risk businesses.

Yeah except it's the CUSTOMERS that are demanding that LTE be deployed RIGHT NOW. How many customers is Sprint losing because they are behind the others in LTE deployment? Maybe you should be telling the customers of these companies to chill out and they'll get LTE when it's good and ready.

noc007

join:2002-06-18
Cumming, GA
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

Re: Some things you can't rush...

A carrier's lack of foresight and planning is not the customer's fault. LTE is the new shinny and is being heavily marketed by the carriers. Yes customers want their carrier to deploy LTE, but not die trying. There is irresponsibility going on with these deaths and blaming the customers is just a straw man argument.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
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The customers at your company are DEMANDING all customers jump in front of a bus. Would you do it? Why? the customers will have to understand it can't be done instantly.
and yeah, it ok to tell customer the truth.
I'd happily tell them to STFU, it'll be done when it's done.

ropeguru
Premium
join:2001-01-25
Mechanicsville, VA

I love statistics....

So tower workers have the highest death rate and most dangerous job. Same could be said of firefighters and police officers. One fire killed 19 firefighters in Arizona alone and the does not include all the others that have given their lives in 2013.. That right there is more this year in one single incident that all those killed working on towers.

Why can't we just report the number that have died doing a job and not try to make each industry out to be the worst in order to have glory?

meeeeeeeeee

join:2003-07-13
Newburgh, NY

2 edits

Re: I love statistics....

Actually, Loggers (Lumberjacks) are number one and Fisherman are number two in the US. The Government just recently issued the latest report. Tower workers didn't even make the top 10, nor did Police or Fire (In spite of all the hoopla raised by their unions in order to get even better contracts next time). They were followed by pilots, roofers, ironworkers, sanitation workers, power linesmen, truckers, farmers and ranchers, and construction laborers.

These figures are reached by factoring the death rate per 100,000 workers in the industry.
en103

join:2011-05-02
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
I think its a statistical issue. The number of firefighters/police/first responders are probably more than 10x the number of tower workers (i.e. a few thousand in Los Angeles area alone) vs. maybe a 100 or so tower workers. To have 100 police die on the job in one year in somewhere like LA would be a BIG number - one every 4 days almost!

54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL
said by ropeguru:

Same could be said of firefighters and police officers.

When comparing deaths per hundred thousand police and firefighters have a rather safe job compared to those who work in construction.

meeeeeeeeee

join:2003-07-13
Newburgh, NY

1 edit

Re: I love statistics....

said by 54067323:

said by ropeguru:

Same could be said of firefighters and police officers.

When comparing deaths per hundred thousand police and firefighters have a rather safe job compared to those who work in construction.

The number of Government Workers (local, state and federal) as a whole dropped in 2012 to the lowest number since the Bureau of Labor started keeping statistics, this even after factoring in those that died of massive coronaries while attempting to get out of their cars after eating yet another dozen donuts.
--
"when the people have suffered many abuses under the control of a totalitarian leader, they not only have the right but the duty to overthrow that government." - The U.S. Declaration of Independence

moldypickle

join:2009-01-04
Haughton, LA
kudos:3

.

»www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline ··· -deaths/

PBS documentary on the subject. Definitely a look into what the problems are. Good watch too

54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: .

said by moldypickle:

PBS documentary on the subject. Definitely a look into what the problems are. Good watch too

Young, inexperienced and invincible are not the makings of a "long term" tower climber, add to that a bit of weed smoked at the top and on a descent it may all go real south, real fast.

Now please understand, I have no knowledge if anyone involved in any of those accidents did such, I can only relate to my experiences in that industry, it was for many a right of passage once they got "high" enough.

Ike1

join:2012-06-02
Newark, NJ
Here's the written version for those who prefer to read it rather than watch the video:

»www.propublica.org/article/cell- ··· talities

batterup
I Can Not Tell A Lie.
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Netcong, NJ

Who did they work for?

Were these represented linesmen like JCP&L or guys picked up that morning looking for day work?

54067323

join:2012-09-25
Tuscaloosa, AL

Re: Who did they work for?

said by batterup:

Were these represented linesmen like JCP&L or guys picked up that morning looking for day work?

At $10 per hour what do you think???
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361

Re: Who did they work for?

I hope you are kidding about $10. I would wash dishes and about a million other jobs before climbing a tower even at $100 an hour.
nlwnola

join:2011-01-19
Metairie, LA
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

RE

chances are they are contractors. the carriers place a set of guidelines in place in regards to safety standards but is up to the contractor to follow them. I've seen sprint site getting overhauled here in new Orleans left and right. wires all over the place. transmitter antenna's being hauled up in windy weather just to get the job done.

I remember when AT&T did there installs they used very large bucket trucks on most and only on the highest actually had people climb the sites.

there is no job that is so important that it cannot be done safely.
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
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Cellphone tower catches fire in Sanford, Florida

Check out this story. Incident occurred on August 21:
»www.wftv.com/news/news/local/cel ··· o/nZX69/
Luckily workers were not injured.

KA3SGM
- -... ...- -
Premium
join:2006-01-17
West Chester, PA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast
·Cricket Broadband
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Cellphone tower catches fire in Sanford, Florida

We did that up here in the Philly area too.
Also a welding job gone wrong:
»www.phillyburbs.com/my_town/bens ··· 14f.html

They recently lit another candle up the road in New Jersey as well:
»www.nj.com/monmouth/index.ssf/20 ··· ons.html

In both cases, the workers got off the tower without any fatalities.

Go figure, the heliax type cables are relatively flammable foamed-polyethylene insulated, PVC jacketed.
The whole monopole-type tower is hollow, with large cable(and air) entrances at the bottom, and the top wide open, it's a natural chimney.

NFPA and local codes are going to change after this, requiring either plenum rated cables, and/or fire-stop foam blown into the tower.
--
ROCK 'TIL SUNSET