Following a big push to protect workers from fatal falls from cell towers, the US Department of Labor has also filed a lawsuit against The Ohio Bell Telephone Company (d.b.a. AT&T). 13 workers were suspended without pay for reporting workplace injuries. This violates the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act of 1970.
There is no indication of what injuries were sustained by the 13 workers who reported workplace injuries, but this suit comes right on the heels of a major campaign led by OSHA to prevent workplace fatalities at communication tower worksites. In a February 10, 2014 open letter to communication tower industry employers, OSHA cites some scary fatality statistics. In 2013 13 workers were killed at communication tower worksites, and already four more workers have been killed in 2014. The letter goes on to note that “a high proportion” of these tragedies could have been prevented with proper fall protection. OSHA has even put together an informational website for the communication tower industry.
OSHA will come down hard on any employer not providing adequate fall protection and fall protection training for their employees. I would go further to suggest that communication tower companies should be ready for a visit from an OSHA inspector this year.
Obviously, the communication tower industry is not the only industry where fall protection is integral to worker safety. Do you know what the risks to your employees are? Do your employees know what the risks are, and are they consistent about using their personal fall protection equipment? Elimination is the key to preventing workplace injuries, and employees should be trained in how to perform daily work in such a way to minimize hazards, in addition to knowing how to use fall protection equipment, and how to inspect that equipment for any wear and tear.
Make sure your employees are protected. If you need help assessing your workplace safety risks, or would like to arrange for training for your staff please request a quote or give us a call today.
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