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Unsafe working conditions on communication towers increasing

As the use of cellphones and other wireless technology increases, cellphone and other communication towers are becoming ubiquitous features in Maryland and across the nation. Yet some may be surprised to hear that tower climbing in order to repair or maintain communication towers is considered by some to be the most dangerous occupation in the nation.

Approximately 10,000 people work in the field of tower climbing. However, the number of deaths while these workers were on-the-job has been considered unacceptable by the director of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In fact, since the beginning of 2013, 19 workers have died while working on communication towers.

With this in mind, OSHA is tracking which organizations subcontractors were working for when the incidents took place. It is felt by some that ultimately the owners of cellphone towers must take a more active role in ensuring workers are safe, rather than placing all of the responsibility on the shoulders of the final contractor. In addition, OSHA is attempting to inspect any worksites on towers they see, as systematic random checks are not always possible due to the fact that work on cellphone towers is often short lived.

While OSHA inspections are a good thing, there are still times when workers will be injured due to accidents in the workplace. When this happens, workers should be aware that they can apply for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits are provided to help workers cope with their medical costs and lost wages associated with the accident.

However, it is important to carefully fill out any and all paperwork associated with a workers' compensation claim. It is also important to keep in mind that there are deadlines when it comes to filing a workers' compensation claim. By carefully taking all the necessary steps, workers in Maryland may be able to receive the financial support they are entitled to.

Source: Pacific Standard, "OSHA Takes a Closer Look at the Most Dangerous Job in America," Liz Day, April 7, 2014

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