How Telecom Techs Can Protect Themselves and
Help CWA Hold Employers Responsible
Communications Workers of America
Working with or near electric power lines and other electrical hazards
presents unique safety and health concerns for CWA members
employed as telecommunications outside plant technicians.
In recent years, many CWA technicians have suffered work-related accidents,
injuries and illnesses and six of our members have died since 1999 after contact
with electrical power. The rate of these incidents has risen as telecommunications
employers have put more emphasis on increased productivity and profits at the
expense of worker safety and health. Members report being pressured to work
faster with inadequate education and training in jobs without well developed poli-
cies or procedures. Also, generally they are not provided ergonomically designed
hand tools and other well designed equipment, as well as personal protective gear.
CWA is committed to ensuring that represented employers provide safe and
healthful working conditions and is actively working to prevent on-the-job
accidents, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. This brochure, developed by the
CWA Occupational Safety and Health Department, is part of that effort.
Who has the primary responsibility for providing safe and healthful
Of importance, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration states
clearly that the employer has primary responsibility for providing working condi-
tions “which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to
cause death or serious physical harm.”
The OSHA Telecommunications Standard (29 CFR 1910.268) deals specifically
with power lines and other electrical hazards. The standard requires telecommu-
nications employers to provide:
ä Appropriate work practices and procedures that allow employees to do their
jobs in a safe and healthful manner.
ä Appropriate education and training.