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Fiber to the Death

Phil Harvey
10/25/2006

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

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Duh!
Duh!
12/5/2012 | 3:36:52 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
A sobering reminder that our alphabet soup networks -- IPv6 over MPLS/GMPLS over DWDM or whatever the industry pundits are flogging this week -- run over old-fashioned physical infrastructure that has to be built with hard physical labor by workers in hard hats.

Traditionally, Telcos and the unions prided themselves on safe work practices and training for safety. It used to appear almost comical... until you realized that this was about a bunch of high-school graduates working in a complex and very dangerous environment. I hope this run of accidents is an anomaly, and not a systematic failure of vigilence.
DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 3:36:50 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
re: "I hope this run of accidents is an anomaly, and not a systematic failure of vigilence."

That's what I mean. These guys are only as safe as their trained to be and, though their jobs are quickly being cut, let's hope that downsizing and lower investment doesn't lead to neglect of basic safety.
ericrabe
ericrabe
12/5/2012 | 3:36:43 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
The safety of all employees as they perform their jobs G«Ű whether theyG«÷re in the field atop a bucket truck or in an office G«Ű is of paramount importance to each of us at Verizon. Any on-the-job accident and certainly a fatal one is a tragedy. We responded to each of the incidents sited in this blog with additional training and emphasis that employees must be careful to follow safety rules G«Ű especially as they pertain to working in the vicinity of electrical power. Indeed, for many years Verizon has made sure all of our field technicians receive safety training before they start their jobs, and they receive recurrent training and reminders about adhering to safety rules as they continue their careers.
Eric Rabe, SVP, Verizon
rjmcmahon
rjmcmahon
12/5/2012 | 3:36:42 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
Eric,

Does VZ report these type of accidents to any government agencies that accummulates them and makes them public? I noticed the department of labor has some statistics and mentions communications workers at risk due to proximity to electrical wires.
rtrowsdell
rtrowsdell
12/5/2012 | 3:32:38 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
Yes, It very sad that was my dad, Since that day my whole life have change. I misses my father he left behind three wonderful children and I am the oldest. I am Marvin Jr. My hoildays are not the same anymore since my dad's death. My dad was the greatest father and he is miss. This poem is for my father Marvin E. Benson.

HeavenG«÷s Called You Home

Even though thereG«÷ll be tears
Our times were based on smiles
YouG«÷ve made it into glory
And weG«÷ll see you after while
In the meantime watch over us
Just as always
Remembering the good times
Will get us through the days
Knowing that youG«÷re not far away
We will always reflect
Back on the precious memories
We could never forget
What you mean to us
And what we mean to you
YouG«÷ll forever be our inspiration
And encouragement too
YouG«÷ll always be our father
No other could ever replace
We will proudly carry your name
And wipe the tears from our face
We promise to stay strong
And do as we aught
And have each otherG«÷s backs
As you have always taught
Dear Daddy we love you
And we hate to see you go
but weG«÷ll carry you in our hearts
as we continue to grow
And if weG«÷re ever to see
A rainbow in the sky
WeG«÷ll know that its you
Stopping by to say hi


LOVE ALWAYS,

MARVIN, MARIAH & JAMAR BENSON

rtrowsdell
rtrowsdell
12/5/2012 | 3:32:37 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
Yes, It very sad that was my dad, Since that day my whole life have change. I misses my father he left behind three wonderful children and I am the oldest. I am Marvin Jr. My hoildays are not the same anymore since my dad's death. My dad was the greatest father and he is missed. This poem is for my father Marvin E. Benson.

HeavenG«÷s Called You Home

Even though thereG«÷ll be tears
Our times were based on smiles
YouG«÷ve made it into glory
And weG«÷ll see you after while
In the meantime watch over us
Just as always
Remembering the good times
Will get us through the days
Knowing that youG«÷re not far away
We will always reflect
Back on the precious memories
We could never forget
What you mean to us
And what we mean to you
YouG«÷ll forever be our inspiration
And encouragement too
YouG«÷ll always be our father
No other could ever replace
We will proudly carry your name
And wipe the tears from our face
We promise to stay strong
And do as we aught
And have each otherG«÷s backs
As you have always taught
Dear Daddy we love you
And we hate to see you go
but weG«÷ll carry you in our hearts
as we continue to grow
And if weG«÷re ever to see
A rainbow in the sky
WeG«÷ll know that its you
Stopping by to say hi


LOVE ALWAYS,

MARVIN, MARIAH & JAMAR BENSON

Duh!
Duh!
12/5/2012 | 3:32:28 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
Marvin and family,
Let me reiterate my condolences on your loss. If it weren't for the work of crafts people like your late father, everything that Light Reading viewers do would have no value. I value his contributions and hope others do as well.

Our industry has always taken safety seriously. Verizon says that's still the case, and I believe him. I hope your late father's colleagues will think of him every day, before starting every job.

Peace.

DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 3:32:27 AM
re: Fiber to the Death
Marvin,

Thanks for that remarkable post. We here at LR offer our condolences. We'd also hope that Marvin Sr.'s peers in the field cherish his memory and stay safe.

ph
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