Basic safety and Broadband Must Go Together

The wi-fi industry is a powerful driver associated with growth in our economy. New services pop up all the time, giving the gadgets in our pockets and purses better service and faster broadband connections. Our country relies on these connections, but serving America’s exploding need for them shouldn’t come at the price of a worker’s life.

Too often though, that is exactly what is happening. In 2013, 13 workers lost their lives in this industry. This year: 11 so far. The tower industry might be small, currently employing 10, 000 to 15, 000 workers, but it’s quickly proving to be one of the most dangerous. And if we don’t do something now, the number of fatalities will grow as fast as the industry does.

This is why our agencies joined together yesterday with telecommunications and tower system industry leaders to address this heartbreaking problem. We know that we can only solve it if we work together; that we every have a role to play in halting these senseless tragedies. It’s also why we’re proud to announce that our partnership on this issue doesn’t end today, but will continue by means of a joint working group the particular FCC and DOL have decided to create, with industry participation, to develop suggested practices for employers.

We know that no one intends for a tower construction project to consider a life. Contracts for tower system work are often written to ensure basic safety from top to bottom, but that message frequently gets diluted in a decentralized market that uses so much subcontracting. We have to make sure the protections are making it in the folks on the ground to the person one, 000 feet in the air holding the particular wrench or wearing the funnel.

This particular new working group represents an enormous step forward, as we do everything in our power to make sure no family has to experience the anguish of losing the parent, child or sibling inside a workplace fatality. We were also capable to announce today another component of these continued efforts to save worker lifestyles: the new Registered Apprenticeship Program to get Tower Technicians. This apprenticeship plan will make sure that tower technicians receive the safety training necessary to reduce injuries on the job. As the telecom industry booms, it needs workers with the expertise to perform the job safely.

The TIRAP program and this morning’s event are a case study in the importance of partnership. It’s a great example of federal agencies and forward-looking market leaders breaking down barriers, identifying typical goals, creating synergy and creating a whole greater than the sum of our parts.

We look forward to this continued partnership as well as the effect it will have on the lives plus livelihoods American workers.

*DOL mix published this blog at: http://social.dol.gov/blog/?p=15486


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