The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

February 8, 2014

Firm in towers collapse was fined during 2009

CLARKSBURG — The company that employed two of the three people killed in the collapse of a pair of cellphone towers in Clarksburg was sanctioned after a fatal accident in 2009 in Missouri, according to Occupational Health and Safety Administration records.

The Exponent Telegram reported Friday that OSHA cited S&S Communications with two “serious” violations after an employee fell to his death from a 330-foot communications tower in Oregon County, Mo. OSHA said the worker detached his harness but should have had a secondary tether. The company was fined $3,000.

“The key here is, this was a preventable accident,” said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen.

In addition, OSHA said two S&S employees were found to have “defective components” in their lanyards.

S&S Communications declined to comment Thursday.

Two workers for the Oklahoma-based company were killed last Saturday when a 300-foot tower owned by SBA Communications collapsed. One of the contractors was more than 60 feet up on the tower and the other about 20 feet up when the structure toppled. Two other workers on the tower were injured, and a firefighter also died after a second, smaller tower collapsed.

OSHA is investigating. Prentice Cline, area director for the agency’s Charleston office, said it could take up to six months to determine whether to issue any violations.

The four workers were performing maintenance to strengthen the tallest tower’s structure when it collapsed, killing 32-year-old Kyle Kirkpatrick of Hulbert, Okla., and 27-year-old Terry Lee Richard Jr. of Bokoshe, Okla., police have said.

The second tower came down a few minutes later, striking Nutter Fort Volunteer Fire Department member Michael Garrett, who died at a hospital.

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