You may be less irate about your cell phones calls dropping out when you learn about a new statistic making the rounds about the on-the-job deaths of cell phone tower climbers -- those who amble up to the top of tall structures to fix mobile phone infrastructure. The job may just actually be one of the most deadly jobs out there -- if not the deadliest job, according to comparable industry statistics.
The job of cell tower climber isn't on the government's current official list, which last came out in 2006, and likely won't be on the next one because it doesn't break down to that many specifics. But the Wall St. Journal's "Number Guy," Carl Bialik, went through the numbers and found that the cell tower climbing job was quite dangerous in terms of fatalities rates, at least as reported by Wireless Estimator, an industry trade publication. The numbers have gone from 10 deaths in 2004 to 18 in 2006, which translates to a rate of 183.6 deaths per 100,000 (although the industry itself, at about 10,000 workers, is much smaller than that).
That would rank cell tower climbers at the top of the list according to rate of death, which in 2006 was toppped by fishers and fishing related workers at a fatality rate of 147.2 deaths per 100,000, and followed by hunters and trappers, aircraft pilots, loggers and steel workers.
As for total dealth as reported in 2006, the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,703, and construction workers topped the list with 1,226 fatal work injuries.
Being at the top of the list of most fatal jobs is, of course, a designation that no industry wants to have, so now that this story is out, the next step is to see what the cell phone industry plans to do about it. In 2006, coal mine deaths were up significantly because of the Sago mine disaster and all sorts of safeguards went into place. So the ball is now in the court of the major cell phone carriers, but a little instigation never hurt any safety effort...
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