A Calico Rock, Arkansas-based wireless telecommunications company was slapped with the industry’s highest fatality-related penalty by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this week. Pegasus Tower Co. faces a $140,720 fine for one willful and two serious violations following an investigation into the work-related death.
The worker, John Wayne Womack, 43, of Mountain View, Arkansas, died Nov. 16, 2019, after falling from a self-supporting tower at a worksite in Starkville, Mississippi. He was attempting to connect two sections during the erection of a 348-foot structure. Several Pegasus Tower Co. techs were at the scene erecting sections of the tower when the accident occurred.
OSHA cited the company for failing to ensure employees used fall protection, and failing to designate, identify, and train employees to provide rescue in the event of an emergency.
“This tragedy underscores the legal requirement to implement a safety program that effectively addresses the hazards associated with communication tower work,” said OSHA Jackson Area Office Director Courtney Bohannon.
According to Wireless Estimator, the fine is the highest penalty ever issued by OSHA for an incident in the industry that resulted in a fatality, though it is far less than the largest OSHA has issued to other industries for violations of fall protection. For example, last June, OSHA hit a Portland, Maine, construction company with a $1.1 million penalty for violations discovered after an employee fell 20 feet to his death after climbing down from a roof without adequate fall protection.
Beasley Allen handles a variety of cases related to workplace safety. While all workers should be guaranteed a safe working environment, all too often we handle cases of serious injuries and deaths resulting from a hazardous work environment. Many times our investigation reveals defective or dangerous machinery was involved, or employers failed to provide adequate protections or ignored safety regulations.