OSHA & The Tower Climbers

Built for a Simpler Era, OSHA Struggles When Tower Climbers Die

Liz Day

ProPublica / News Report
Published: Friday 25 May 2012
Almost 100 climbers have been killed on the job, 50 of them on cell sites.”
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When federal lawmakers passed landmark legislation creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, they intended to protect workers by imposing clear, uniform rules on their employers.

The 1970 law assumed that the relationship between companies and the people they hired for dangerous jobs would be straightforward, employer to employee.

No one planned for industries like tower climbing.

Tower climbers, the roughly 10,000 workers who build and maintain the nation’s TV, radio and cell towers, aren’t hired directly by the corporations that rely on their labor. They’re subcontractors, sometimes separated by a daisy chain of other contractors from the companies that ultimately pay for tower projects.

Experts say this tiny field is emblematic of a fundamental change in the way U.S. companies deal with risky work – and in OSHA’s ability to hold companies accountable when workers are injured or die.

Over the past decade, considerable attention has focused on the out-sourcing of U.S. jobs to foreign countries with lower safety standards and wages. Much less noticed has been the trend of companies out-sourcing their dirtiest, most perilous work within the U.S. (Read more)

This article was published at NationofChange.org

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