A worker on a cell tower under construction was critically injured when the 60-foot section he was working on fell over, according to the Farmington, N.M., Daily Times.
Sammy Pacheco, 51, worked for L&B Telecommunications, which was lifting the last section of a 150-foot tower into place when the incident occurred. Apparently the crane was unable to lift the section high enough to successfully position the section, so it was brought down for re-rigging.
Pacheco climbed up the tower section, while it was still being suspended upright above the ground, and it became detached from the crane and then toppled over crushing him. He was then airlifted to San Juan Regional Medical Center and is listed in critical condition.
L&B Telecommunications, which was hired by the Navajo Nation Tribal Utility Authority to build the cell tower, has had other run-ins with Navajo Nation Occupational Safety and Health Administration (NNOSHA), according the organization’s director Julius Elwood. NNOSHA is being assisted by New Mexico OSHA and federal OSHA personnel in its investigation.
The Navajo Nation currently has 700 cell towers across more than 27,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico.
“The Navajo Nation has exploded with cell towers because of the remoteness of the area, the lack of communications infrastructure, and the popularity of cell phones,” Elwood told AGL Bulletin.
This has been one of the safest years in memory for the tower industry so far, with a single fatality in June in Minnesota. Last year saw seven fatalities in the tower industry.