Image used under Flickr CCLi. Photo by Flickr user TheBusyBrain.
Like many people, each day I rely on quite a few gadgets and technologies for my work and private life. With the world as connected as it is, and as gadgets have taken over our life, there is a part of me that remains blissfully ignorant of the fact that somewhere, somehow, some human is working overtime to make sure my gadgets stay working.
PBS’s Frontline and Nonprofit investigative journalism outlet ProPublica, have done an extensive investigation into the hidden droves of workers who scale cell towers to fix and service equipment. Most of them work for subcontractors and make around $10-$11 per hour. Many of them also fall and die.
Between the years of 2003 and 2011, 50 workers died working on cell sites, more than half of the nearly 100 who were killed on communications towers. Both Frontline and ProPublica looked into each death and discovered lack of training, no proper safety mechanisms, and dangerous work conditions faced by each of the men (they were all men) who died.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the pressure to build out the network has been a contributing factor to fatalities,” said Steve Watts, who worked as a risk manager at AT&T until 2007.