Complaining about your underwhelming number of bars is something of a national sport at this point. We’re all paying through the nose for these data plans; how come there’s that one patch of zero coverage in the living room?
Well, carriers have actually been working to fix that. There were 5,000 cell sites around the country in 1990; there are now 280,000. But it seems the rush has a dark side. ProPublica and Frontline have teamed up for an investigation into fatalities among the climbers (often subcontractors) who work on these towers, and sobering is really the only word to describe to describe their findings. Between 2003 and 2011, half of the hundred people who died on communications towers were climbers working on cell sites.
From the article:
Since 2003, an analysis of OSHA records show, tower climbing has had a death rate roughly 10 times that of construction. In 2008, the agency’s top administrator, Edwin Foulke, called tower climbing “the most dangerous job in America” at an industry conference.
AT&T in particular comes in for criticism, with the report alleging the carrier “had more fatalities on its jobs than its three closest competitors combined…Fifteen climbers died on jobs for AT&T since 2003. Over the same period, five climbers died on T-Mobile jobs, two died on Verizon jobs and one died on a job for Sprint.”
The company provided a statement saying that contractors are obligated to adhere to safety regulations, deaths have decreased, and last year there were zero deaths on AT&T jobs.