back to article The most dangerous job in America: Keeping iPhones connected

An investigation into the deaths of workers putting up cell towers has shown how US network operators distance themselves from those taking the risks, with AT&T's dash to provide iPhone connectivity allegedly killing more than most. The investigation was carried out by ProPublica and (US TV show) Frontline, which have spent …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It used to be a dollar a foot

    I have worked with people how worked on high towers. In addition to your base pay, you got one dollar for every foot you went up. Good money but a very high stress job. Also, it was back before subcontracting subcontractors which is very common today. Safety rules were strictly enforced.

    Companies love subcontractors because it isn't their fault. They might know that it is absolutely impossible to get the job done safely in the amount of time expected but it still isn't their fault.

    1. Dave 32
      Paris Hilton

      Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

      I, too, remember it being US$1 per foot, but that was 30 years ago or so. I had a friend who was a tower climber. Those flashing lights on towers have to be replaced every so often, not to mention antenna work, transmission line work, etc. That wasn't bad money back in the early 1980s, although he only worked a few days per month (Can't really work in inclement weather, at night, etc., at least not safely).

      Dave

      P.S. Paris, because I'd like to climb that! ;-)

      1. Fatman
        Paris Hilton

        Re: P.S. Paris, because I'd like to climb that! ;-)

        You better be careful!!!! It could be dangerous inserting objects into a `black hole`!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

      I'm only on the periphery of the mobile network but having seen a network rollout go without incident (in a country that is technically in the third world, using local employees), I'm inclined to view the US accident figures as poor and, quite frankly symptomatic of the US's fuck you attitude to anyone who does this type of work. Accidents will happen but lethal accidents should be very rare.

      Come to think about it.... Thinking about the terrain (in the particular country I was in at the time), there should be more fatalities getting to and from some of the towers in the first place!

    3. GotThumbs
      Facepalm

      Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

      It's NOT AT&T's fault.

      Blame game. Did an ATT exec push the workers off the tower? Any job today is a balance between time and cost. In the end...the tower worker is the one making the choice and is solely in control of every step/ladder rung they climb.

      Weak minded fools are always the first to blame others for their mistakes. Man up america!

      1. Tapeador
        FAIL

        Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

        @ GotThumbs

        If you're a large company commissioning work, or purchasing goods, then the way you do so, directly influences the shape of the supply chain.

        Example: if you place an order for 1000 televisions, but do so at the back of the Wetherspoon pub in Birkenhead, with Mickey Headcase, then you're probably going to be responsible for an extremely unpleasant and violent robbery or ten. Whereas if you do so through a wholesaler, whose premises you know are clean and safe, who gives you documentation of the provenance of the goods, you can be happier you're not causing a menace.

        It's called quality assurance, and it's what conscientious customers generally prefer (you excepted of course), the alternative being a PR disaster for whichever company is exposed as practising it.

        1. Nights_are_Long

          Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

          @ Tapeador, That wouldn't be The Swinging arm would it? Horrible boozer, put's The Swan on my side of the River to shame.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Did an [name irrelevant] exec push the workers off the tower?"

        If the execs want to be considered as personally responsible when things go well (so they get very very big personal rewards), then surely they must also be considered personally responsible when things go wrong, hopefully up to and including being personally locked up where appropriate?

        Why pay the bonus to the individual when things go right but fine the company (ie its customers) when things go wrong?

        In the UK the Grayrigg rail crash (causing one death and many serious injuries) is a recent example of the way this works; there are many others. The seniors cut spending on track maintenance and then paid themselves a big bonus because profits are up. A while later the reduced track maintenance directly causes a fatal accident.

        A legal investigation finds the original management negligent, but they are not held personally responsible. Instead, a fine of millions of pounds is imposed, which will be paid by the company and come from... the same maintenance budget where cuts caused the accident. Nice.

        GotThumbs not got a clue on this one.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Welcome to capitalism

          If the execs want to be considered as personally responsible when things go well (so they get very very big personal rewards), then surely they must also be considered personally responsible when things go wrong, hopefully up to and including being personally locked up where appropriate?

          One of the primary attributes of a corporation (arguably the most important one, though it's in a dead heat with concentrating capital) is that it limits personal liability. Capitalist societies accept[1] granting this benefit to the owners and management of corporations, in exchange for the increased economic efficiencies and productivity that in theory[2] follow from increasing the economic incentives for entrepreneurial activity.

          Of course "limited personal liability" is itself limited, and management should be held accountable for misfeasance and criminal activity they had knowledge of. And even beyond that, the law (I think rightly) can hold them criminally negligent even when they don't have knowledge of some categories of corporate misbehavior.

          But to say that they should be "personally responsible", full stop, is to junk the corporation and other limited-liability structures in favor of personal direct ownership and partnerships with no liability protections. It'd basically be a return to feudalism and coverture.

          [1] By "accept", of course I mean that the gradient of political power, which is what undergirds the legal superstructure of a society, maintains it. That's the result of complex fields of vested interests and ideologies; it's not like everyone in a society sits down and says, "here's the list of trade-offs we're going to make".

          [2] And in practice, historically; there's never been an economic system of size and efficiency to rival global capitalism. That doesn't make capitalism the "best" system in some essential sense, but it does mean that no one's been able to demonstrate a viable superior alternative in real-world conditions.

      3. MrXavia
        Thumb Down

        Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

        Unless they actually employ the people directly, or set out safety standards and then inspect to ensure the standards are being met, they are just as responsible for every death as clothing manufacturers are for having clothes made in sweat shops, or Apple is for the standards at factories making their iToys. (not singling Apple out here for any reason but its the most well known).

        If I was using contractors, one death down the chain doing a job I ordered would be enough for me to 'discuss' the contract with the people and consider cutting out middle men and employ/contract directly to the people doing the job!

        1. Danny 14

          Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

          In the UK things are different. I know a tower climber, he used to be on a monstrously ludicrous wage. Granted his life insurance was of the "pay per day" variety and the worst thing that happened was when legislation required 2 climbers per job so his salary halved.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

        So if we paid somebody to shoot you, we wouldn't be responsible?

    4. JohnMurray

      Re: It used to be a dollar a foot

      Well, in the UK, it would be their fault.

      Quite simply, the principal contractor is responsible for the actions of subcontractors it uses.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Asher Pat
    Thumb Down

    Dog bites man with an Apple product - big time news

    Why do you have to mention Apple product, are these antennas are exclusively for iPhone?

    1. 0_Flybert_0

      Re: Dog bites man with an Apple product - big time news

      may be because Apple has a history of using subcontractors with worker safety and work hour issues .. like Foxconn

      or it's just our nature to pick on the #1 and #8 corporate entities in the US ..

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Dog bites man with an Apple product - big time news

      Agreed, it would have been a perfectly good article without hyping the headline.

      1. bpfh
        Trollface

        Re: Dog bites man with an Apple product - big time news

        @Sorry that handle is already taken : This *is* El Reg.... without the tarty headlines and (sometimes) biased verb, we would be reading The Guardian instead...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dog bites man with an Apple product - big time news

      "Why do you have to mention Apple product, are these antennas are exclusively for iPhone?"

      Yes iPhone did have to be mentioned.

  3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    FAIL

    AT&T + Apple: What a pair of shmucks

    The ex-AT&T VP they interviewed in the program was very clear the driver was the rollout of the iPhone. So you have Apple on one end insulating itself from the working conditions of those making the phones, and their original partner AT&T insulating itself on the extreme other end of the connection from those who have to climb the towers. I hope all those Apple fanbois are proud.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: AT&T + Apple: What a pair of shmucks

      But don't Samsung and Motorola own the patents for these 3G services, so surely they're more to blame than Apple.

    2. Uncle Bernie
      Happy

      Re: AT&T + Apple: What a pair of shmucks

      As an iPhone user, I have to say I do not give a shit. They are lucky they are working.

      1. Steven Roper
        Mushroom

        @Uncle Bernie

        "As an iPhone user, I have to say I do not give a shit. They are lucky they are working."

        And THIS attitude, folks, is why I detest Apple and its fanbois and refuse to allow them or their products on my property.

        I hope your iPhone's batteries explode and blow your bollocks off, then I won't give a shit.

        1. Jean-Luc
          Flame

          Re: Steve Roper @Uncle Bernie

          Hey f**k u 2 Steve.

          Uncle Bernie makes me barf, at many levels. His, and AT&T's, is exactly the kinda attitude that gets people all romantic about socialism and nasty capitalists eating lil Irish babies. Underpay your contractors in a dangerous job => expect accidents. Simple as that. I wouldn't want live with that.

          In fact, I really hope he's just pulling our chain and trolling. Hard to say - he sounds like such a twat.

          But your generalization is pretty childish nonetheless. I won't change my phone because of this, though this would definitely weigh against me continuing or taking up any relationship with AT&T, were I in the US.

          Like someone else said those towers aren't just for one piece of kit.

          Have no fear, despite your idiocy, I would spill my beer on Uncle Bernie's head before yours. Sorry, on his hydrophobic iPhone. After spitting a wad of chewing tobacco cud in it.

        2. Danwold
          WTF?

          Re: @Uncle Bernie

          "And THIS attitude, folks, is why I detest Apple and its fanbois and refuse to allow them or their products on my property."

          And THIS attitude, folks, is why I detest racists and bigots. They tar whole groups of people with their own nasty brush and spread hatred unnecessarily.

          1. Ted Treen
            Thumb Up

            @Danwold

            Quite, Dan: and well expressed.

            I'm a long-standing Mac user (since the late 1980's) and I own an iPhone4, which I suppose would be sufficient for some to contemptuously dismiss me as a fanboi - whatever that is.

            I know many Mac users:- some are delightful, and some less so. Very much less so, in some cases.

            I know many PC users:- some are delightful, and some less so. Very much less so, in some cases.

            There appears to be no correlation with their system of choice.

          2. Steven Roper
            FAIL

            Re: @Uncle Bernie

            "And THIS attitude, folks, is why I detest racists and bigots."

            Excuse me? Detesting Apple fanbois is racist now? How to undermine a cause over trivia!

            There ought to be a Godwin's law for the word "racist".

      2. Martin 47

        Re: AT&T + Apple: What a pair of shmucks

        To paraphrase someone else (Dame Edna) May your apples turn into bicycle wheels and backpedal up your arse

      3. Danny 14

        Re: AT&T + Apple: What a pair of shmucks

        "As an iPhone user, I have to say I do not give a shit. They are lucky they are working"

        wow. I hope your safety mechanism at your place of work are up to scratch then.

  4. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The Frontline Show

    Can be watched from free from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) web site:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/cell-tower-deaths/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Frontline Show

      'This film is not available in your region because of rights restrictions.

      We apologize for the inconvenience.'

      1. bpfh
        Thumb Up

        Re: The Frontline Show

        Hey, it works here in France :D I'll watch it while I can :)

  5. Christoph
    Devil

    But our policy says it doesn't happen

    "Our contracts with these companies require strict compliance with state and federal laws and regulations"

    Well, that's all right then. As long as the policy is OK then the dead bodies obviously don't count.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been told be people that work for ATT that if you fall or get hurt while climbing they say it's your fault for not checking that it was save. As result when people get injured people are hesitant to report it for fear of being fired. Yes ATT has a union.

    1. Charles Manning

      Should be safer than rock climbing

      These climbers have safety harnesses etc available to them. If they use these there should be no way to plummet to a sticky end.

      Rock climbing is generally only unsafe when people screw around or the rock breaks. Since the steel fittings of the tower are unlikely to break, tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

      1. 142
        Alert

        Re: tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

        Your opinion may change after watching this..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqyuo-BLt00&feature=relmfu

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

          I'll just leave this here.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k4Xk1mEwmI&feature=related

          1. Charles Manning

            Re: tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

            Looking scary and feeling exposed are totally different to actual safety.

        2. AVee
          FAIL

          Re: tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

          @142: That's not a cell tower, nor a 3G antenna. It sure looks like a scary job, but it's in a totally different league.

          1. Danny 14

            Re: tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

            looks like a TV transmitter.

          2. 142
            Pint

            Re: tower climbing really only provides opportunity for death through screwing around.

            well yes, I know it's something of the worst case when it comes to these things, but my point is that even for cell transmitters - the equipment being lugged around is often a sizable proportion of the weight of the person on the tower, with plenty of ways for someone to be badly hurt, safety hooks, or no safety hooks!

      2. Kurt 5
        Alert

        Re: Should be safer than rock climbing

        As someone who used to be a tower climber as part of my job in college I have to say that the safety harness is nice for when you're working at the top (or wheverever on the tower the equipment is located) BUT for the ascent and descent being clipped in is difficult. You spend more time clipping/unclipping to get around all the stuff attached -- guy wires, lower level antennas, lights, etc. Some towers run a clip line attachment up the tower that minimizes the amount of reclipping but that is rare (at least when I was doing this 25 years ago).

        1. Charles Manning

          Re: Should be safer than rock climbing

          So what you are saying is that the safety gear is there, and safety is possible, but it is inconvenient to use so climbers take chances and employers probably turn a blind eye because doing things by the book reduces productivity.

          Pretty much what I was saying.

          While I have not climbed towers per se, I have climbed other structures. I used safety kit. Yes, it was a drag having to clip and unclip every step. Yes it took forever, but I was safe.

      3. bexley

        Re: Should be safer than rock climbing

        Yes but they are not top roping and there is no belay. They have to free climb / clip a sling on every few steps. It would take so long to get to the top that there is not enough time to complete the task and climb down again in one day if they climb and clip each step.

        They dont even use ropes so cant ab down afterwards.

        I'd actually rather be doing this for a living that sitting behind this desk telling other people to do it!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bleuerrhgh

    Health and safety gone mad, I say!

  8. Petrea Mitchell
    Stop

    FREE-CLIMBING?!?!?!

    That's the sort of thing OSHA should be shutting companies down over if it can be proved that it's their customary way of doing things. (Yes, I understand the difficulties involved in proving it.)

    As someone whose employer operates in a similarly dangerous industrial sector but has a superb safety record, I... words fail me. I'm surprised there haven't been civil lawsuits over any of these deaths.

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: FREE-CLIMBING?!?!?!

      Yeah free-climbing on a tower's insane. But something tells me that the employees are doing it for whatever reason and either the supervisors are turning a blind eye to it (or even going so far as to covering it up) and know its going on, or the employees are doing it, not telling anyone and then crying foul when someone gets killed.

      In all honesty its probably both and varies depending on contractor.

    2. Benjamin 4

      Re: FREE-CLIMBING?!?!?!

      Difficulties in proving it? Could they not just get someone to sit in a car near where the work is being done with a camera with a telephoto lens, that seems like proof to me.

      1. AVee

        Re: FREE-CLIMBING?!?!?!

        They could, the issue is getting the guy with the camera in the right place at the right time. Those companies work all over the place. And a phone call asking where you can go to do an inspection spoils it a bit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FREE-CLIMBING?!?!?!

      If you're spotted free-climbing on an Arqiva site in the UK (i.e. most TV and FM transmitter sites and more) by an Arqiva employee you'll be instantly dismissed. They do appear on site with cameras as well.....

  9. FrankAlphaXII

    AT&T has a union, yes. Don't really matter though in this case because the subs are generally not unionized.

    Their craft workers are organized under the Communication Workers of America/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. But they're usually only used for maintaining the system once its deployed, installation and test is usually sub-contracted and its been that way since the 1990's.

    Climbing towers is dangerous work, I can testify to this firsthand, its the reason Im not in the Active Duty Army anymore, I fell and fucked my knee up pretty bad. At least it was a small tower, had it been one of the bigger ones Id be biding my time in purgatory right now. Honestly if I hadn't been wearing my interceptor vest Id probably have a good number of broken vertebrae, I got lucky. Most people who fall from towers aren't.

    But the rub here is that the Occupational Safety and Health Act doesn't apply if you get killed or injured as long as the company followed safety regulations. Its up to the individual employee to actually undertake proper safety procedures because generally a supervisor isnt anywhere nearby to enforce the company's responsibility. Im not saying the subs are blameless, but it seems a little too simple and disingenuous to put the blame squarely on Apple, AT&T or the Subs without taking a hard look at the employees themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Um I have nit seen ATT IBEW since SBC bought them. The point I was making was that ATT treats tier own employees the same way.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...biding my time in purgatory right now"

      No such place.

      1. Ted Treen
        Devil

        @Obviously

        Obviously you've never been to my last place of work...

    3. Swarthy Silver badge
      Joke

      @FrankAlphaXII

      >Climbing towers is dangerous work, I can testify to this firsthand, its the reason Im not in the Active Duty Army anymore, I fell and fucked my knee up pretty bad.

      In short: I was in the Army, until I took a tower to the knee?

  10. GotThumbs
    Facepalm

    Blame game....

    If you REALLY want to place blame of a tower workers death...(without knowing what really was the cause....carelessness on workers part.? etc.), Then why not place blame on those directly responsible for the increased need in cell towers. Everyone using a cell phone today.

    This growing trend to seek blame for an individuals experience is a growing tend fueled by the lawyers of today. I can tell you where it started....When a woman made the decision to place a hot cup of coffee in her lap while driving her car....and her stupid CHOICE resulted in a successful million dollar legal suit against McDonalds. When people strive for personal profit from a company due to the individuals carelessness/stupidity... that's why we have more stupid people today. We need to let nature take its course and let the stupid people fade into the dark.

    If AT&T has more work projects going on than any other company...then its statistically reasonable that of all ATT contracts..there were a % higher than others. In this world we each make choices....you needs to learn to live with it and stop trying to blame others for YOUR choices. Else you lead the government to take control of all lives and YOUR not capable of doing for yourself. I know there are lots of lazy people out there that ARE looking to be babysat by the government....and they WILL be voting for the clown currently in office.

    1. melts
      Facepalm

      Re: Blame game....

      maybe you should watch the documentary hot coffee.

      covers what you think is 'where it all started', and will hopefully clear up a few things for you.

      frankly i believe sub contractors only exist to get out of taking responsibility, one way or the other. having been there and done that and all.

      i won't go into the political/governmental points raised, expect to say it looks like to me a bit of a characterisation of those who disagree with your views to paint them in a negative light.

    2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Blame game....

      I want to from the argument at hand until I have more time to look and think things over. However, I want to point out that your McDonald's lawsuit carried dual culpability: the woman and McDonald's. McDonald's had been told more than once the temperature at which its coffee was being held was too hot: between 180 and 190 degrees F, with over 700 burn claims against the company. At that temperature there's a lot of energy, and water is particularly good at holding and then very good at giving up its stored heat. The amount of energy transferred to skin at 180F versus a lower temperature of say 140F is not linear but exponential in difference.

      Aside from the "duh" factor, the woman, who by the way was a passenger and not the driver, had several factors working against her: her clothing which held the hot water, the sensitive skin in the area, her age and thus additional skin sensitivity, and the excessive heat at which McDonald's served her coffee. The jury found both parties at fault and lessened the award to her in the case citing a fifth-liability on her part, and ultimately McDonald's was hit with almost $500,000 in punitive damages due to its proven wanton prior practices.

      This is exactly what our legal system is for in this country and largely, IMNSHO, proof that government regulation isn't always necessary. If AT&T is knowingly culpable, then it should be punished civilly, and the subcontractors and contractors should be scrutinized by the same people. If AT&T is legitimately unaware that its contractors and subcontractors and subsequent employees are working unsafely, then those companies or individuals should be taken to task. Responsibility must also be levied at the subcontractor level since they can ultimately look at the job and say, there's no way we can get it done safely on that time line or pay. I also believe there is some onus on the subs to take legal action against AT&T if it is encouraging unsafe work practices, whether deliberately and knowingly or by nature of its work orders.

      Paris, burn, baby, burn.

  11. Dana W
    Trollface

    And now the news!

    Tonight on El Reg! iPhones cause herpes! And Terrorism! They Kill puppies!

    Film at 11!

    1. Steve Renouf
      Alert

      Re: And now the news!

      And don't forget the children's fried brains! We MUST think of the children!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And now the news!

        And the people who think about the children, there's a list for people like that! </dailymail>

    2. Jedit Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "iPhones cause herpes!"

      Ridiculous unsubstantiated claims of that ilk are precisely the kind of shoddy, prejudiced alarmist reporting that gives The Register a bad name. Everyone knows you can't get herpes from an iPhone. It's syphilis.

  12. Jeff 11
    Meh

    $10 an hour for something with an inherent, immediate, and constant risk of death every hour that you work? Doesn't strike me as the most equitable trade of labour for monetary reward in the world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      $10 an hour is barely above the UK's minimum wage, and probably is below it some days!

      I can't imagine anyone doing a skilled job such as this for such a low wage!

  13. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    corporate behavior, and network scale

    @GotThumbs, I disagree to some extent. It sounds like AT&T was playing the US Corporate game. This takes the form of having either subcontractors or subordinates who are told to meet some impossible task (impossible without cutting corners), then when cutting corners has consequences, act just shocked, SHOCKED!, that that would ever happen under their watch. In this case, tell subcontractors "X and Y *must* be done in time Z", then stick fingers in ears when told "This can't be done in time Z." The contractors get it done n time Z by cutting corners.

    A few store chains have had systematic problems with either sleazy sales tactics (Best Buy), or bosses fudging hours off employees time cards (Walmart). Again, for the sleazy sales tactics "corporate" would tell store managers they *must* sell say Y magazine subscriptions, or $X worth of electronics, or so on, but set this limit unrealistically high. Then when they can't meet that limit, they resort to the sleazy sales tactics since otherwise they'd be fired. If they get called out for it, well, they then corporate claims they never advocated that kind of behavior. Time card thing is similar, corporate tells stores they must run with $X labor (which is less than the minimum needed to run the store), then are shocked when they find out the bosses were messing with cards. Of course in cases like these the bosses who actually follow the rules don't meet sales or cost controls and get fired, the ones who "fudge" things stay on, unless they make it onto the 5'oclock news (at which point of course corporate acts surprised this kind of thing could ever happen, and probably fires them.)

    That said, for those saying these figures sound shockingly high... Verizon's network is (by geographic area) the largest on the planet., and I remember reading they had 80,000 cell sites about 10 years ago (when their network had about 1/3rd-1/2 the coverage area it has now.) AT&T claims 256,000 sites (they cover a smaller coverage area, but for whatever reason keep having to cram in more and more cell sites compared to Verizon, even though both have large amounts of spectrum...) I mean, the death rate should be zero, but I think even if you did things like AT&T (give subcontractors a deadline that makes them freeball it, then act all shocked), rolling out a new network in a third-world country would on average result in zero deaths, because you aren't dealing with 256,000 cell sites.

  14. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    $10 an hour?

    If they'd hire BASE jumpers for this they'd get the job done in half the time.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know someone who works on cell towers, gets paid well and is a heavy drug & dirty sex addict... leaving just enough money to scrape by.. could that be the problem with the people who fall.. not doing regular drug checks and inexperienced climbers... its a free country so i mean making the drug checks mandatory is a bit harsh.. but some companies would opt for that.. you'd figure. I'd check the stats a bit if i cared anymore.

  16. ZenCoder
    Unhappy

    Most dangerous job? Out of how many workers?

    I was curious enough to look this up, thought I would share.

    Climbers average Average 123.6 death per 100k from 2003 to 2011 with around 8-9 thousand workers. Since 2009 the number dropped to 58, then 81 in 2010 and 81 again in 2010.

    In comparison to other high risk professions tower climbing jumps is the 3rd most dangerous most years, but quickly jumps to the top of the list when demand is high and there is pressure to skip safety precautions.

    Fisherman

    Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 116

    Median wage: $27,880

    Logger

    Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 92

    Median wage: $38,660

    Airplane pilot

    Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 71

    Median wage: $115,300

    Farmer and rancher

    Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 41

    Median wage: $65,960

  17. nBex

    Safety?

    I am reminded of the crazy tower free climb video http://youtu.be/e335kbl9YWc

    Certainly shows how safe they are.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A tower climbers opinion

    I climb towers in the UK and if I was silly enough to free climb I would be sacked instantly.

  19. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Going Postal

    was my immediate thought.

    Terry Pratchett, you are a wise man, and clearly we all live on the discworld/

  20. david 12 Silver badge

    Aus

    As far as I know, there are NO tower climbers in AUS. All tower work is done from a crane lift (AKA cherry picker).

    There is some roof work, tree work, and cleaning work done on ropes/wires, but even that is less year by year.

    By the way, some high-voltage work here is done live from a helicoptor. I'd regard that as dangerous. Also, interested to see that racing of any kind was not included in the danger figures above. In my own state, the ambulance service was created as a service to the horse-racing activity, and I don't think it's gotten any safer since.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Aus

      Using helicopters for live high voltage work, is, or at least used to be common practice. Elementary phyciscs will tell you that a person dangling on a wire nowhere near the ground is not going to get injured, as there should be no way for the potential to be realised (i.e. they are not touching anything with an earthing).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you are silly enough to free climb for your job - then it' YOUR fault.

    The network operators will have strict rules for safety and probably even provide the required safety equipment - if people are not following them then they should be sacked. Some people think it's cool to free climb, muck about with chainsaws - but if they do it's their issue.

  22. Fatman

    Tower Climbing Hazards

    I once talked to a tower climber about his job, and the hazards associated with it.

    Since he is based in the southern states (USA of course), the most dangerous aspect is not the climb, but nasty weather that rolls in faster than he could get safely down.

    He told me that one day, he had top climb to the top of a 1850 foot tower located near Florida's Atlantic shore. As he started up, the sky was clear and bright blue. Once he got to the top, and was well into fixing the problem, he looked eastward (out over the Atlantic), and saw this nasty storm cloud. It looked like it was heading his way. Tough choice to make - finish the job; and PRAY that you can get down BEFORE the storm hits; or take the safe route, and get down while there is still time.

    Oh, and btw, this was a FIXED PRICE job!

    WWYD???

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