In a tragic turn of events, a 41-year-old man fell 200 feet to his death July 25, while working on a cell tower in Vienna, Md. It is the seventh tower climber fatality in 2013, one more than the average annual rate from 2003 to 2011.
The accident victim, Michael Frontiero Cortes, 41, of Morovis, Puerto Rico, fell from tower while repairing a satellite dish with a co-worker, according to the Maryland State Police, Easton Barrack. He was critically injured by the fall and had died by the time first responders arrived upon the scene.
Cortes was a tower engineer employed by Konet, which is listed as a Puerto Rican telecommunications consultant with 13 employees and annual revenue of $920,000, according to the Manta small business web site.
The unidentified co-worker said he was assisting Cortes by providing him with tools via a rope and pulley system. The co-worker said, as he was preparing some of the tools, he heard a thud. He turned around and as he looked behind him, saw Cortes lying unresponsive on the ground a few feet away.
While the accident is still under investigation, the body has been released to the next of kin and there no suspicion of foul play. The investigation is mainly focused on the circumstances surrounding Cortes’ and the company’s safety procedures and whether or not he was properly secured to the tower by a safety harness.
Ernest Worthman, AGL magazine editor, assisted in the reporting of this story.
Macquarie Infrastructure Partners is looking to sell Global Tower Partners to one of the publicly traded tower companies, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.
GTP, the fourth largest cell tower company in the nation, owns, manages or master leases more than 16,000 wireless sites throughout the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica.
GTP was founded in 2002 by Marc Ganzi, who also founded and was president of Apex Site Management, a company that leased rooftop space. In 2005, Blackstone Group purchased GTP for $225 million. Australian investment bank Macquarie purchased the tower company, which had 2,500 towers and 6,000 roof tops, in 2007 for $1.425 billion and structured it as a REIT. GTP is now rumored to be worth between $3.5 billion to $4 billion.
North Charleston, SC (PRWEB) July 10, 2013
Fueled by dramatic growth in the wireless industry, locally headquartered STEALTH is moving to a larger space at 3034-A Ashley Phosphate Road.
The 68,000 square-foot office and manufacturing facility will house STEALTH’s growing wireless concealment business. Founded more than 20 years ago, the company invented – and continues to improve upon – concealments for all manner of antenna systems. “The world’s voracious appetite for strong signal has fostered dramatic growth here,” said Sean McLernon, STEALTH CEO. “Our shop floor is working over time to keep up with demand.”
The new space, which is more than three times the size of the former location, will house the company’s design, manufacturing, shipping and administrative staffs.
STEALTH Concealment Solutions was founded in 1992, and was the first U.S. company to engineer and construct antenna concealments for the wireless industry. The company has full manufacturing capabilities as well as a nationwide sales network. From rooftop concealments and flagpoles to steeples and towers, STEALTH has experience making every type of concealment and excels at finding solutions for difficult sites. The company’s proprietary StealthSkin™ technology allows signals to pass through the concealment with minimal loss. Today, STEALTH spearheads more than 750 concealment projects nationwide per year for all wireless carriers.
STEALTH has been honored by the Charleston Metro Chamber and the Tower Technology Summit. The company’s work has been featured in RCR Wireless, TIME Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, CBS, AGL magazine and on About.com.
For more information on STEALTH, or to get your copy of our latest Antenna Concealment Handbook, call 800-755-0689.
Todd Hansel survived a fall from a cell tower he was helping construct near Dike, Iowa. That is the good news. However, as a result of his 50-foot fall, he was seriously injured and hospitalized for days. And worse yet, he has significant hospital bills that he cannot pay.
Hansel, 29, was working as an independent contractor for Pegasus Tower Inc., based in Calico Rock, Ark., so he will get no help from his employer in paying the $200,000 in hospital bills accumulated so far in treating his injuries, which include multiple broken bones and torn ligaments in his ankle, three compression fractures in the vertebrae in his lower back and several cracked ribs near his solar plexus.
Hansel has had reconstructive ankle surgery, where a plate and screws were inserted to stabilize the joint. Because he has no insurance, every trip to the hospital goes through the emergency room, costing thousands of dollars per visit.
“Now I am broke and almost homeless,” Hansel said. “My employer’s advice was for me to file for Social Security disability, but I can’t because all of my injuries will heal.”
When the accident occurred on July 17, Hansel was working with two other employees, who only spoke broken English. They were stacking a tower with a crane when there was a miscommunication concerning the adjustment of the J bolts on a ladder that Hansel was standing on. The ladder had been mounted to tower sections and needed small adjustments up or down.
The ladder came loose at the top, swung out and broke away from the tower. Both Hansel and the ladder then fell nearly 50 feet, and seconds later they hit the ground, according to Hansel.
“The ladder got hung up on parts of the tower, which slowed down the fall enough so that the impact did not kill me,” Hansel said. “On a scale of one to 10, the pain was about a 17.”
Hansel said he was wearing a harness but was given only one lanyard, so his only tie off point was to the ladder.
To pay his hospital bills, Hansel is in the process of filing a lawsuit against Pegasus Towers, claiming that he was actually an employee of the company and eligible for workers’ compensation.
While the merits of Hansel’s case cannot be judged, the Internal Revenue Service defines a common-law employee based on whether the employer can “control what will be done and how it will be done.”
Hansel is looking for work in the tower industry again, but he will need three months more of recovery, according to his doctors, which he will spend with cousins in Oklahoma. He has two and a half years of experience mounting and installing antennas and radio heads, RF sweeping, and PIM testing. Hansel had only been with Pegasus Tower for two weeks. Before that he was with Midwest Underground Technologies Inc., and before that he worked for Capital Tower & Communications.
“As soon as my ankle heals, I want to climb again. I am pretty good on top for upgrades and installations,” he said.
OSHA, which is investigating the incident, is no stranger to Pegasus Tower.
On June 14, 2004, OSHA conducted an inspection at Pegasus’ construction of a 1.300 communications tower for the NBC news station in Madison, Wis., levying several fines including exposing workers to falls of 940 feet.
In 2001, the agency inspected Pegasus’ Channel 23 tower erection site in Akron, Ohio, and issued citations for violations including failure to protect employees from a 400-foot fall. The $24,600 penalty was later reduced to $16,500.
As carriers rush to deploy LTE, what waste results from this haste? One thing that keeps coming up is neglected antenna mounts. John Paleski, president, Subcarrier communications, told AGL Bulletin that as the messengers bearing bad news, tower companies are put into a position of conflict with carriers when they discover new mounts are needed after a job is begun.
“You have to fight with carriers, because they don’t want to [swap out antenna mounts]. They have a certain schedule [for LTE deployment] and they want to maintain it at any cost,” he said. “The major reason for [the mounting issue] is when we are putting four TMAs [tower-mounted amplifiers] per sector, some mounts can handle it, but if it is one of the early angle iron mounts that were only intended to handle a couple of antennas per sector, there is no way that it’s going to support more than that.”
Paleski related an incident the previous week where the tower company was put in the uncomfortable position of telling its boss, the carrier, that an LTE upgrade could not occur because the mounts were woefully inadequate.
“We notified the carrier that, in our judgment, the tower mounts were not adequate to support the new antennas and the new TMAs, but we were directed to finish the installation,” he said.
As the Subcarrier crews progressed further and started to put the antennas and TMAs up, the antenna mount actually started to bow out and collapse in the center by a few inches, according to Paleski.
“The crews could see the metal stress caused by the increased weight. The angle iron mounts were never designed for this type of load,” he said.
So, again, the carrier was called and notified of stress issue on the mounts, but it replied that installation should be completed. But three-quarters of the way through the installation, Paleski pulled his crews from the job, risking the ire of the carrier.
“I called the carrier personally and told them I could see the mounts bending from the ground and there wasn’t any wind. This tower needs new mounts. These mounts will never do. They were not happy,” he said.
Several days later, the carrier sent an engineer to the site who came to the conclusion that only one of the three sector mounts needed to be replaced.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was exasperated. All the mounts were identical. The only reason one looked worse was that it had more equipment on it. I told the engineer they all need to be replaced, so he reformatted his letter and told the carrier to replace all the mounts,” Paleski said.
Because the antennas, TMAs and old mounts had to be removed from the tower before the installation could begin again, the price tag nearly quadrupled.
Antenna Mounts: The Wild Card
Antenna mounts are the wild card of LTE deployment. Carriers do not have any documentation on what mounts have been deployed on towers because they were installed by third parties, according to Paleski, and that information was never transferred to a database.
“Some mounts are adequate, some are woefully inadequate. We quote these jobs but have no idea what we will be faced with when we get there. It becomes incumbent on us to tell the carrier whether the mounts are adequate,” Paleski said.
Instead of relying on the judgment of tower crews, which may not have a structural engineer on staff, carriers need to send a crew to each site to independently verify the mounts on the towers before the bidding process begins, Paleski said.
“Mount information should be included in the plans that we receive, so we will know before a tower crew is dispatched whether the mounts need to be replaced or not. As a result, the carrier could specify whether the mount needed to be replaced, and we could price our services accordingly,” he said.