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On Thursday, July 31, 2014, the federal Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations and fined S&S Communications Specialists $14,000.00 for two serious safety violations. The citations to the Oklahoma Company stem from three deaths when the cell tower collapsed in February.
In February, several contract workers with S&S were replacing supports on the cell tower located in the Summit Park area of Clarksburg when the cell-tower collapsed. The collapse of the tower put stress on a guy wire that eventually weakened and caused a second, smaller tower to collapse. The tower collapse killed three individuals including one firefighter who had reported to the scene.
According to the OSHA report released Thursday, the OSHA investigation found that the tower collapsed when S & S employees were removing a bracing on the tower. However, the employees performing the work were not using temporary braces of supports and were permitted to be tied off to bracing that was not capable of supporting at least 5,000 pounds. S & S now has 15 days to respond to the citations by either agreeing to pay the fines, meet informally with OSHA’s area director or contest the fines.
This is not the first incident involving S&S and a cell-tower collapse. The Clarksburg Exponent Telegram reported in February that S & S had previously been cited for workplace violations when an employee in Missouri fell to his death from a tower in 2009. In that incident, the OSHA investigation found that the preventable incident occurred when the worker detached his harness without a secondary tether that should have been provided.
The collapse of the cell tower is just one in a recent string of tower collapses around the country. According to OSHA reports, at least 14 fatalities involving cell-phone towers occurred in 2013. When commenting about the recent OSHA findings, OSHA area director, Prentice Cline stated, in a news release, “These deaths are a painful reminder of the dangers associated with communication towers, and are at the root of OSHA’s directive on communication tower construction activities.” Cline went on to say that OSHA will be working with the National Association of Tower Erectors in an attempt to better protect workers on cell-phone towers in an attempt to prevent workplace injuries.