According to a Fortune story today, in the span of only five weeks, six workers have fallen to their deaths from cell towers, half of which occurred on AT&T projects. This follows four months of zero fatalities in the industry, and only 10 total last year from "elevated structures of all kinds" combined, like water or TV towers. While there's no definite way to prove this macabre causality, it's worth noting that AT&T been building out its 3G network with fervor, no doubt placing workers under serious pressure, and a comment by someone claiming to be a safety manager/communication work posted on an earlier Fortune post about AT&T's 3G network struck us:

At what costs? There has been such a rush to get the "3G" up and running that communication tower workers are pushed to their limit. As a safety manager and a communication worker I find it hard to justify the "Hurry up and be SAFE" mentality. One of the largest construction management companies preach the 0 accident policy but force you to get this done at next to nothing in a obserd [sic] time frame and a company who used to be raising the bar are certainly not sharing all of the info. Check to get an updated list of 3G fatalities. I am sure that the companies in question will state they require a 100% tie off but when push comes to shove get the job done.


An AT&T spokesman told Fortune and repeated to us that there was no link between the deaths and their 3G rollout: "You go to each tower and use a laptop to perform the upgrade at the base station at the bottom of the tower. There is no need to climb towers." While it's true, strictly speaking, that workers don't have to climb the tower to perform software upgrades, we're told that even in those cases, workers often have to climb them in order to troubleshoot on the new setup.

Whether or not the deaths are the result of a push to meet deadlines, we would all do well to remember that people have died to make 3G a reality. [Fortune, Image via Flickr]