In the last few years of the aughts, while many of us privileged jerks were whining about how our iPhones kept dropping calls, and the national mobile network couldn’t handle the call volume generated by our data-slorping smartphones, a hidden army of workers were there for us, risking their lives so that we could download podcasts on the bus. These dudes (they’re all dudes) scale towers to fix and upgrade equipment, working for subcontractors and receiving relatively low pay of $10-$11 per hour. And some of them fall and die.
PBS’s Frontline and Nonprofit investigative journalism outfit ProPublica aired/published their extensive investigation into safety practices in the industry. Injuries and deaths in this line of work aren’t pinned to the telecoms, but on the subcontractors they hire as needed. That’s not necessarily a problem, but the shoddy safety practices of some subcontractors are.
Members of the public can also interview a former cell tower worker and current safety advocate via Reddit. He will be answering questions this morning, probably as soon as he figures out how Reddit works.