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Telecommunications tower maintenance worker struck by cable.

Nebraska Department of Labor
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 02NE013, 2002 Nov; :1-6
A 29-year-old telecommunication tower line supervisor was killed when the wire rope being used to hoist coaxial cable broke, allowing the cable and other materials to strike him. The victim was part of a five person crew that was hoisting coaxial cable up on the outside of a 1524 foot high telecommunications tower. The victim and two other workers were approximately 1100 feet up on the tower, guiding the coaxial cable to prevent it from banging into the tower side. The victim was outside of the tower structure, standing on a "platform" which was an ice guard above an FM antenna. He was wearing a harness/lanyard and was tied off to the guard structure. One worker was a few feet above him and another a few feet below him, both inside the tower structure and tied off. The coaxial cable had a 350 pound headache ball attached to the end to prevent cable twisting. This was several feet above the victim. With approximately 75 more feet to go, the winds had started to become a factor at that height. The supervisor on the ground radioed the victim to have him tie the cable off where it was and they would start again the next morning if the wind died down. The victim told the owner they still had a few minutes before the wind was too high, and since they were about done, to go ahead and finish hoisting the cable. The owner went to the trailer that contained the winch, revved the motor and started to pull the handle to raise the cable. As he pulled back, he heard a "snapping" sound from somewhere up on the tower, looked up, and saw the cable, wire rope and headache ball falling towards the ground. He yelled to the other workers to get out of the way and ran to the corner of the adjoining support building. As the materials fell they struck the victim, knocking him off the platform. The materials continued downward until they fell across a guy wire, causing them to slide off to the east of the tower structure. This motion caused the entire tower structure to shake violently. The two workers, one above and one below the victim, immediately started down the structure. They radioed the owner that the victim was badly hurt. They attempted to check for a pulse but the victim was too far out on, and below the platform for them to reach. The owner told them to exit the tower immediately, as he was also afraid it was going to collapse. Local rescue personnel were summoned, but no one had the experience necessary to attempt a rescue at that height. A climbing team trained in rescue procedures was brought in approximately 9 hours later and the victim was removed. The Nebraska Workforce Development, Department of Labor's Investigator concluded that to prevent future similar occurrences: 1. Employers should comply with established industry safety guidelines. 2. Employers should ensure equipment is adequate in size and strength, properly maintained and safely utilized for the job being performed. 3. Employers should ensure that adequate rescue equipment/personnel are available. 4. Employers should routinely conduct scheduled and unscheduled worksite safety inspections. 5. Employers should consider supplementing worker training on safe work practices with discussions of FACE case reports and other related training aids. 6. Tower owners should, through the use of contractual language, ensure that employers/workers adhere to OSHA-required safety measures (including Compliance Directive 2-1.29) while construction or maintenance is being performed on their towers.
Region-7; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Safety-programs; Training; Management-personnel; Cables
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-02NE013; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-709864
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Nebraska Department of Labor
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division