Fiber to the Death

Some phone techs face a shocking fate

Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief

October 25, 2006

2 Min Read
Fiber to the Death

5:25 PM -- Being a carrier technician isn't just phone and games. From The Philter's Hot Wire file comes this note off the Communications Workers of America Website that details just how dangerous network repair can be:

A Verizon technician in Maryland died Monday, Oct. 16, when he made contact with electrical wires on a shared utility pole, the company's third electrocution death in five months.

Marvin Benson, a member of CWA Local 2100, was electrocuted while working in an aerial bucket attempting to place fiber optic cable near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The accident sent electricity through the bucket and to the truck, where the tires caught fire and fuses blew with a second technician trapped inside.

Dave LeGrande, CWA safety and health director, said a third technician outside the truck yelled at the trapped man not to touch anything, and he managed to escape without injury once the electricity burned itself out.

Benson, 36, had worked for Verizon for about two years. In June, an IBEW member working for Verizon was killed in a similar accident in Rhode Island. In May, a CWA member in Elkhart, Ind., 35-year-old Brent Cheney, was electrocuted while working on the office mainframe trying to detect a customer's cable problem.

The Maryland incident is being investigated by the state's Occupational Safety and Health department, as well as by Verizon. Local 2100 Executive Vice President Mark Balsamo went to the site with company investigators and is monitoring their probe.

Three deaths in five months? I don't know what the norm is, but that sounds a bit on the high side. Anyway, the CWA's Website says the union is compiling a fact sheet that will help technicians understand the accidents that have happened and instruct them on and how to avoid safety hazards.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Phil Harvey

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Phil Harvey has been a Light Reading writer and editor for more than 18 years combined. He began his second tour as the site's chief editor in April 2020.

His interest in speed and scale means he often covers optical networking and the foundational technologies powering the modern Internet.

Harvey covered networking, Internet infrastructure and dot-com mania in the late 90s for Silicon Valley magazines like UPSIDE and Red Herring before joining Light Reading (for the first time) in late 2000.

After moving to the Republic of Texas, Harvey spent eight years as a contributing tech writer for D CEO magazine, producing columns about tech advances in everything from supercomputing to cellphone recycling.

Harvey is an avid photographer and camera collector – if you accept that compulsive shopping and "collecting" are the same.

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