If you’re in the industry, wireless communications industry, then you probably heard that AT&T Mobility was ordered to pay out about $30M to a climber’s family after he fell. This is a momentous decision because for the first time a carrier had to pay a climber’s family without the protection of the layers of contractors that lie between the carrier and the accident.
I see this as a game changer for the tower climbers. I will tell you why. When you look at the case, you see, AT&T Mobility was found guilty of negligence according to the article at http://wirelessestimator.com/articles/2018/att-settles-for-a-record-30-million-to-injured-tower-technicians-family/ where it tells the story of AT&T paying out a record $30M to a climber’s family for his fall. It appears AT&T could have done more to prevent the accident.
AT&T took some shortcuts, probably what they always do to save a few dollars, but this time they had to pay.
Here is what I think will happen. I see AT&T taking safety seriously. This will mean a bunch of meetings and memos internally. But externally, I would like to think that they will find ways to ensure that the site is safe. While $30M is a lot of money, chances are they will make strides to put processes in place.
What I see is that they will do one of 2 things or both.
First, they will do all that they can to be safe and not overlook the safety upgrades that this tower obviously needed. I’m surprised that the tower owner didn’t have any responsibility here.
Second, they will do all that they can to push the responsibility off to others.
Here is one thing that I am certain of. AT&T will make every effort to make sure this doesn’t happen again. This means that they will need to educate their people on TIS-222 Rev G and Rev H. They will need to stop turning a blind eye to dangers that exist. They should start doing more safety audits and safety inspections. One thing that carriers don’t do much of anymore is a preconstruction site walk. This used to be where they would find all the problems with construction, but also safety hazards prior to the main crew showing up.
The preconstruction walks cost extra. It costs more if you need a climber, but today we have drones. That could save on costs, and it will be better than nothing. The construction crew should not have to climb the tower without knowing what’s up there. This means that the tower crew will need to review the notes prior to the climb.
Safety will be a priority from now on. All the carriers will do what they can to make sure the tower is as safe as possible. I don’t believe accidents will go away, but we need to be sure the towers are safe to climb and that a trained climber is not put in harm’s way. If the climber is trained, 100% tied off and does not take risks; then accidents will be just that, freak accidents. Accidents still happen, but let’s not make the job as safe as we can by eliminating the obvious hazards.
This still won’t address the payment terms that most crews deal with. They would like to be paid in a timely manner; not sure if this makes a difference there. But it will shed light on what the climbers deal with. The carriers should stand up and pay attention to more details than ever before.
Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!
More products from TechFecta and Wade4Wireless:
The foundations below do beautiful work, helping families in their time of need. Climbers often get seriously injured or die on the job. The foundations below support those families in their time of greatest need!
Hubble Foundation helps the families of climbers in a time of need and beyond with financial support and counseling!
Tower Family Foundation supports the families of tower climbers at the time of crisis when a climber falls with financial assistance and more.