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OSHA Updates Cell Tower Directive

OSHA has issued a directive outlining the proper use of hoist and other fall arrest systems. The directive, released on July 17, 2014, includes detailed information on how to hoist people safely. It covers any work on a communication tower that involves a hoist to lift workers from one elevated workstation to another, and updates a 2002 enforcement policy that had covered only hoisting workers when new towers are erected.

OSHA, on July 31, 2014, expressed concern for “the alarming increase in preventable injuries and fatalities at communication tower work sites.” Nine cell tower workers have been killed thus far this year, four fewer than the 13 workers who died last year. However, the 2013 figure is more than twice the number of such deaths over the previous two years combined.

Release of the directive is the latest in a series of actions taken by OSHA to improve cell tower safety. The agency is collaborating with the National Association of Tower Erectors and other industry stakeholders to ensure every communication tower employer understands how to protect workers performing this high-hazard work.

In addition, OSHA has created a webpage targeting communication tower work safety issues. It also has sent a letter to communication tower employers urging compliance and strict adherence to safety standards and commonsense practices. The outreach was undertaken after OSHA issued a memo in November 2013 to agency compliance officers and regional administrators mandating increased attention, education and data collection on the industry.

The agency said it continues to investigate past incidents and will issue findings as the probes are completed. Communication towers are on the agency's regulatory agenda, and OSHA expects to issue a Request for Information (RFI) later this year. RFIs generally are a first step in the rulemaking process. 

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 226


About this Author

Bradford T. Hammock, Jackson Lewis, workplace safety law attorney, Hazardous Conditions Lawyer

Bradford T. Hammock is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He focuses his practice in the safety and health area, and is co-leader of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group.

Mr. Hammock’s national practice focuses on all aspects of occupational safety and health law. In particular, Mr. Hammock provides invaluable assistance to employers in a preventive practice: (1) conducting full-scale safety and health compliance audits; (2) reviewing and revising corporate safety and...

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Henry Chajet, Jackson Lewis, health safety attorney, dispute resolution lawyer, overcharge recoveries legal counsel
Of Counsel

Henry Chajet is Of Counsel in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Mr. Chajet counsels and represents clients in environmental, health and safety (EH&S) matters and antitrust matters, focusing on crisis management, dispute resolution, trial and appellate litigation, standard setting, liability prevention, regulatory and congressional proceedings and “direct purchaser” overcharge recoveries for corporate clients in antitrust price manipulation cases. He defends investigations and enforcement actions by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other federal and state agencies, as well as in related tort claims and criminal cases, and in EH&S whistleblower or discrimination claims.

To achieve an integrated defense strategy at the initiation of a government investigation or enforcement action, Mr. Chajet coordinates forensic accounting and technical experts, insurance issues, government interviews, document production and public relations experts. He has extensive experience representing clients in cases involving fatal or serious injuries, explosions, chemical releases, fires, manufacturing, transportation and construction accidents, mine disasters and allegations of product toxicity or community harm. Mr. Chajet has served as co-lead counsel in successful, multimillion dollar recovery cases for corporate clients that were “direct purchasers” of commodities and products for which prices were artificially increased through monopoly price manipulation, violating antitrust law.