Not even days after the ProPublica/Frontline story aired a 31-year-old Austin, Tex. tower technician survived a 100-foot fall from a monopole in Southeast Austin on May 16 around 6:20 p.m..
A spokesperson for the Austin, Tex. Police Department has told Wireless Estimator that the 31-year-old tower technician who fell 100 feet off of a monopole was employed by Goodman Networks. They also said that the last report that they had was that Shad Lierley was in stable condition
Police say that 31-year-old Shad Lierley was working on the structure along with at least one other employee when he fell.
He was transported to University Medical Center at Brackenridge.
A spokesperson for the Austin Fire Department said that they and the city’s police department had been told by OSHA not to release any information regarding the incident.
Waverly Kennedy of OSHA’s Austin area office said he could not provide any details regarding the accident. Wireless Estimator has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with OSHA for all details regarding the incident that are able to be provided as well as a copy of all citations to the unnamed contractor, if the agency does find Lierley’s company at fault.
Damage to the waveguide bridge indicates that Lierley hit the structure when he fell. An unconfirmed news report stated that a second tower technician also suffered minor injuries to his hand.
Goodman Networks, Inc. of Plano is the identified turf vendor for the project, issued a stand down for all operations shortly after. The company manages many AT&T projects throughout the nation.
Their request for the immediate training required states that, “This bulletin is being issued as a reminder of the dangers involved in our industry and to remind all of our employees and contractor personnel of the importance of planning safety into every project.”
Goodman is requesting that the stand-down training must be completed by Tuesday.
“Many of our people are off today because they’ve requested it months ago so that they could enjoy a long weekend,” said one Midwest contractor. “With Monday being a holiday how do they expect us to get everybody together on Tuesday? We can’t.”
Another contractor registered concern that Goodman’s stand-down is going to affect schedules for all of the other projects they are committed to on Tuesday.
Stand-downs have been criticized by many in the industry as being reactive to client concerns rather than a proactive approach to safety.
The joint Frontline/ProPublica investigation identified that the fatalities on AT&T projects totaled 15 since 2003 – more than at the other three major carriers combined over the same period.
AT&T ordered a similar stand down in 2008, after two tower climbers died on its projects.
The company would not answer questions about the current stand down, issuing a statement similar to the one it has given ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” for previous stories saying that AT&T outsources tower work “to expert companies, many of which are large publicly traded firms with decades of experience.”
“Worker safety has always been a hallmark of AT&T,” the statement says.
I was part of that 2008 shut down, working out of Jackson TN and Nashville, TN at the time for AT&T. It is supposed to be a time of review, safety training, and thought on how we are doing our jobs. If it is successful in those goals or not is anybodies guess.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Shad Lierley and his family.