OSHA Cites Tower Company After 2019 Fatal Fall at Worksite in Mississippi

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OSHA has cited Calico Rock, Arkansas-based Pegasus Tower Co. (not affiliated with Tazewell, VA-based Apex Towers, formed by merging another Pegasus Tower Company six years ago) for exposing employees to falls after a 2019 fatality at a Starkville, MS, worksite. The tower building company faces $140,720 in penalties.

In November of 2019, 43-year-old John Wayne Womack of Mountain View, Arkansas, died as the result of a fall from a communications tower while attempting to connect two sections during the construction. OSHA cited the company for failing to ensure employees used fall protection, and designating, identifying and training employees to provide rescue in the event of an emergency.

The OSHA citing read:

Type of Violation: Serious OSH ACT of 1970 Section (5)(a)(1): 

“The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed to a suspension trauma: (a) Jobsite – On or about November 16, 2019 the employer failed to designate, identify, and train employees responsible for providing rescue in the event an employee falls and is left suspended, exposing the employee to suspension trauma. Among other methods, a feasible and acceptable means of abatement would be to develop and implement a site-specific rescue plan.” 

OSHA Jackson Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon said, “This tragedy underscores the legal requirement to implement a safety program that effectively addresses the hazards associated with communication tower work.”

OSHA’s Communication Towers webpage provides resources on appropriate fall protection, and requirements employers must follow to ensure the safety of workers who climb telecommunications towers to perform construction activities.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. 

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