AT&T Talladega cell tower fatality observations

Discussion in 'Wireless Estimator Site Discussions' started by Wireless Estimator, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. Wireless Estimator

    Wireless Estimator Administrator Staff Member

    The death of an industry worker on the AT&T Ala. project followed the typical path of: an OSHA investigation, a fine(s) when applicable, and the inevitable lawsuit(s) followed by a settlement requiring all parties to observe a non disclosure agreement.

    However, the voluminous amount of information provided by ProPublica/Frontline, available through Wireless Estimator's article, helps to identify a number of safety conflicts created by the fast-paced 4G build-outs, and in particular, the turfing model.

    This forum is well-read by AT&T executives, their managers, and their turfing contractors, so it's a great opportunity for constructive dialogue. Your comments and observations are welcomed.
  2. Climber 1997

    Climber 1997 Industry Observer

    ALT would have still had the rope break and they would have dropped the antenna, but if Betacom's man wasn't there a death would not have occurred. Period!

    It is my understanding that this place was a beehive of activity from generator guys to fencing, to you name it. There's absolutely no need for that when you are requiring guys to work above them.

    Even when you inspect equipment before a lift, something could fail. Can you work in a major city with a crane lifting materials without closing off the street to traffic and pedestrians? NO!!! Why should it be any different on a cell site?
  3. Andy "Skooter" Elliot

    Andy "Skooter" Elliot Industry Observer

    It is interesting that Nsoro was the turfer and is never mentioned by the lawyers.

    Why would Nsoro be paid for running the job when you've got AT&T employees calling the shots?
  4. PAnative

    PAnative Friend of the Community

    It's all about the money.

    If AT&T believes a jury trial might award a huge settlement, whether or not they understand the multi employer policy, they are going to settle, but as in the case of Mr. Cotton as little as they can.

    The plaintiff's attorneys always claim they're out to right a wrong and make sure that the accident - no matter what it is - doesn't happen again.

    That's commendable, but it's all about manipulating details to show patterns that are not always correct, but are perceived by jurors to be examples of corporate malpractice.

    Having said that, AT&T proved that they are just as shifty when they asked the judge to throw the suit out because the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals does not recognize the multi-employer doctrine.

    AT&T seems to be arguing something that should be before an administrative law judge after an OSHA citation was issued, not a reason to dismiss a civil suit.

    The case was about whether or not AT&T had an obligation to Mr. Cotton to provide a safe work place after they were notified that there was a safety concern by ALT.

    It was nothing more than that, but the settlement will keep us from ever finding out.
  5. Steve Jones

    Steve Jones Friend of the Community

    You can always say "NO".

    We've all dealt with pressures from customers, all the way up the line. It's the field contractors who have to deal with the most "physical" pressure when it comes to deadlines.

    From the Carrier to the Upper GC to the Lower GC to the field contractor, it's traditionally the field contractor who holds the final word on safety.

    Unfortunately, if the contractor says "NO," the GCs can usually find another contractor willing to do the work "as-is", causing the original contactor to lose most, if not all of their original investment in the job.

    We can usually find a safe way to meet those pressures, but we have a duty to ourselves and our employees (and, let's face it, our competitors) to stand firm on the side of safety--always. (One way to avoid losing all of one's investment or being pulled off of a project is to document everything, including the reasons why it is unsafe to proceed)--There are still plenty of good customers who might hit the roof when you can't meet a deadline, but honor your reasoning for it if it has to do with safety.

    There are two main things I didn't agree with in the Frontline story: 1. In my expeience over the past 2 years of working on AT&T turf, our GC has replaced Bechtel as the most safety-stringent authority we've ever encountered. I mean that in a good way. The hours per week of safety paperwork keep a constant reminder of safety at the forefront of our employee's minds. 2. The OSHA representative interviewed stated that lower-tier contractors usually don't know who the carrier (end customer) is. How can that be? How can you build and test a site if you don't know the carrier's specs?! In my opinion, that was an irresponsible statement and wholly untrue.

    Comments about NSORO not being named and why AT&T is calling the shots: We've had numerous procedural issues that have had to be pushed up the chain and eventually ruled upon by AT&T directly. Any mistakes in the field and decisions on how to proceed/punitive measures/prevention measures can be decided upon by AT&T. They are involved in many ways, if not directly.

    I agree with Climber 1997's comments above. We don't work above or below another contractor. It's a simple matter of communication and accountability. If another crew shows up on a site one of our crews is on, the rule is "first come, first serve." If they refuse to leave and try to climb the tower, our crews are instructed to gather information on the other crew...and leave. Other crews are not accountable to us. Other crews may have a completely different safety and communication process. One crew's vocal warning might be another's "all clear". No offense intended, but communication differences can kill.

    Our message to our employees: YOU are the final authority on safety. If the dangers outweigh the outcome, don't do it. If someone's spreadsheet cell marked "completion date" has to go an additional day without being filled in because it was unsafe to do so, you've fulfilled your primary duty to "safety first". If your rope is damaged and should not be used, it is your duty to inform your employer, and it is your employer's duty to replace it before sending your crew out in the field to perform a job that requires that rope. The same goes for any work equipment whose failure could cause injury or death.
  6. Climber 1997

    Climber 1997 Industry Observer

    Steve, you are so much on target with everything you said. You've made it crystal clear of what GC's, turfing contractors should consider as well as ATT.

    Your post should be hung in every tower companies, contractors, turfing contractors and carrriers office as an example as to what shoud be considered.

    You are proud of your company and employees in doing the right thing as they should be.

    Forget all of the companies that put on their web site how safe they are. They have no idea how safe the subcontractor of the subcontractor is.

    It's all about the money for many.

    It's also interesting that you mention Bechtel. They are the safest out there but I guess they didn't meet the deadlines because they were interested in safety.

    Shame on AT&T.

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