OSHA Inspecting Okla. Tower Owner Following Iowa Death


Occupational Safety and Health Administration representatives spent Wednesday inspecting the broadcast tower used by a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned FOX affiliate serving Iowa’s biggest market as part of an effort to determine if the tower’s owner broke any rules.

The action came after a technician’s death earlier in the day, while working on the tower owned by an Oklahoma-based company.

The incident occurred just 13 months after a mishap in Missouri claimed the life of a veteran tower consultant.

According to various local media reports, a two-man crew working for Precision Communications Inc. (PCI) was working some 1,000 feet in the air on the tower for KDSM-17 in Des Moines.

The structure is located in an antenna farm to the north of Iowa’s state capital, in the Polk County town of Alleman.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Heath Osberg told KCCI-TV that one of the two workers, aged 50, fell from a middle section of the tower. It is in a very rural area, and surrounded by grassland.

KDSM acknowledged the death, but not on via a news story or on its website. Rather, the Sinclair station went on Facebook, where it said, “KDSM FOX 17 has been made aware of the tragic event that occurred at the tower site where KDSM’s antenna is located. A contractor was working on repairs to KDSM’s antenna when he fell and was fatally injured. At this time, no other details have been made available. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

On the KDSM website, the station noted that the signal is only available to Mediacom subscribers. “We are working on a solution to get us back on DirecTV and Dish Network and over the air,” the station said.

According to The Des Moines Register, the repairs were needed after KDSM experienced a “catastrophic burnout” of the antenna’s transmission line.

The work was done Tuesday after weather-related delays.

PCI is headed by Karen Kymen, who co-founded the Grove, Okla.-based company in March 1993. According to the Tower Family Foundation, “Karen has spearheaded many safety initiatives within PCI and is interested in sharing her experience with others and remains committed to the safety of tower climbers throughout our industry.”

Serving as PCI’s Risk Management and Logistics Coordinator is Mike Couch.

The death of the worker on the KDSM tower comes 13 months after Blaine, Wash.-based Steve Lemay lost his life while conducting work on the broadcast tower housing the transmitter for Ozarks Public Television‘s KOZK-21 in Springfield, Mo., located to the east of the metropolitan area in Fordland, Mo.

The tower crashed to the ground in a horrific April 2018 incident. In November, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that the collapse of the KOZK tower was caused by contractors’ errors.