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Tower-Party Safety

from Dale Kubichek, N6JSX on October 4, 2012
View comments about this article!

Tower-Party Safety
by N6JSX /8

The ultimate achievement, the status flag, the pinnacle of being a HAM is when you operate from your own tower. Whether the tower is to raise the apex of a HF inverted V, obtaining increased repeater/ATV distance, or optimize HF beam antenna height - height will improve your ability to make contacts.

This article is not about lightning nor grounding, this article is about YOU a HAM that has little to NO background in tower climbing or antenna installing - the classic out-of shape nerd that thinks he can do anything and will try to prove it. But all too soon you will learn the perils of heights when hanging from the tower for needless hours while attempting to install a tower section, antenna, rotor, or other items to discover you’re missing a part or tool. Then the ground crew is sent scurrying about seeking what is needed to make the tower-party evolution a success while you hang aloft – is that SAFE?

When it comes to having a successful tower-working-party, it is ALL in the planning, planning of each mundane detail with contingencies, alternatives, or enough information to call a delay until all is right! The number one goal to ALL tower-parties is to achieve SAFE success. The tower owner will lead or designate a leader that needs to create a written tower-party PLAN (a script) for all in the tower-party to reference. Write the PLAN like a choreographed NASA step-by-step space mission.

In the PLAN, do not bite off more than you can chew – plan to complete only one task per tower-party. Consider yourself lucky (or well prepared/experienced) if you’re able to get to task number two before the tower climbers must come down. The PLAN needs to be written breaking out each task. ONLY progress to the next task when all agree (including climbers)! Party Chief remain aware of your climber’s fatigue while aloft - talk to them often to judge their state, but try not to frustrate them too much as they need to focus on the job at hand!

A good PLAN will select a cooperative and talented ground crew! Tower items should be pre-group on the ground for ease of access, pre-assembly, pre-tuning, and to insure all mounting hardware is present and kitted. Then insure you have the right tools for the job – double check everything ‘before’ the climb!

Just before the climb the Party Chief, Lead Climber and Ground Commander ‘shall’ conduct a party SAFETY briefing and verbally read the PLAN to the party (as a walkthrough) answering all questions NOW - not later - before anyone climbs. Insure everyone in the ‘party’ is thinking alike! Anyone in the tower- party can yell “)STOP)” if any safety hazard is spotted at any time (in this, all are EQUAL)! Make NASA proud – lives may depend on your eyes and actions.

The biggest uncontrollable factor to any tower-party is the “WEATHER!” COMMON- SENSE rules the day on this subject! If you decide to climb a tower with rain or thunderstorms near, I’ll read about you getting a Darwin award. Remember, lightening can strike even in clear skies up to 20 miles in front of a storm. But when it comes to tower work the unrealized killer is WIND, wind will swiftly fatigue even the most fit tower monkey (climber) with sun beating HEAT running a close second. If you climb with wind chills below freezing you deserve a Darwin award!

Topics for the tower PLAN: (but not all inclusive)


Tower build/repair – tasks #…

Rotor placement/repair – tasks #…

Antenna placement/repair – tasks #…

Annual maintenance inspection/repair – tasks #...

Who’s the tower-party Chief that makes all the calls: _call sign

Who’s the lead Climber who makes all calls aloft: _call sign

Who’s the ground Commander who makes all calls below: _call sign


Season temperature - expected OP window hi:___ lo:___

Season winds - expected OP max:____mph

Season wind direction – no go direction:____

Season sun/rain/lightening/snow/ice/fog/etc


Site electrical/telephone wires – proximity safety review

Who will administer: _call sign(s)

First aid


911 – who will make the call: _call sign


Climbers – abilities/experience/stamina

Climber’s harness/Carabineer/belt/hooks/ropes (safety inspection)

Gin pole & ropes

Rotor, cable, brackets, hardware, sealant

Tower parts/hardware


Ladder (if used, pre-use safety inspection)

Common multi-purpose hand tools/wrenches

Special tools need/availability/how used


Tender bucket for Tools/H2O/etc w/hoisting rope

Antenna #1:

A detailed list of hoisted assembles & discrete support hardware

Pre-assembled & adjusted (on the ground)

Verify all mounting hardware is present / kitted

Coax & connectors

Order of hoisting / tower placement (insure within climbers reach)

Mag or True North – how aligned

Antenna #2, #3…:

Same as Antenna #1

What if’s:

Missing / dropped / lost hardware contingency plan?

Who on Ground team assigned to run for hardware?

Tower-Party items to consider:

If you’re erecting a tower or hoisting more than 25lbs onto the tower use a ‘gin-pole’. A ginpole is a type of crane arm that is temporarily affixed to the tower. This arm has a pulley and rope for hoisting. Use the ground team as the mules (with leather gloves) – the climbers aloft do NOT hoist, they guide items aloft!

Often you will need to preassembly the tower mast with the top antenna(s) with coax attached. ALWAYS use a second rope as your guide rope to keep the load away from the tower to insure no snagging of tower rungs. These items get very heavy and cumbersome and just a little wind can double or triple the load complexity making the lift unwieldy! Climbers should never try to be King-Kong by man handing the load aloft, let the ground carry the loads weight via the gin-pole rope. Climbers, it is so very easy to pinch a finger or drop the load onto a finger or hand while aloft; do not forget to watch for the unpredictable devilish helper THE WIND. Rhetorical climbers; how do you get down with a damaged wing that is bleeding onto the ground crew? Climbers need to be conservative in their approach aloft to remember to position yourself away from the load IF it drops it does not drop on you!

Gin-pole in place on a Rohn-25G tower section, notice the rope comes down through the pipe/ pole!

(Shown without crotch straps rigged)

Klein Lanyards #SPA-496

BlackHawk!™ Lanyard #990453OD

Safety requires a climber’s harness has independent (two) lanyards; it is essential the lanyards have self-locking Carabineer/hooks. Having independent Carabineer/hook lanyards will keep you attached to the tower at all times while you ascend, descend, or adjust your position.,1088,1390.htm

I had used a climbers ‘waste’ belt for years but it often would slide up my mid-section creating severe back strain. Upon returning to the Midwest and becoming an Ohio DNR Hunters Ed Instructor, this old dog learned a new trick. I acquired a full body tree-stand hunting harness that has a built-in waist-belt with D hooks for lanyards. This is by far much more comfortable and safer! My son is wearing my vest-harness for the pictures. This vest is similar to “Big Game® EZ - ON Safety Vest” a TMA-certified Safety Harness for ~$60 (what is your life worth?)

An added benefit of using a hunter’s tree-harness is it has a safety tether in the center backshoulders where a ‘real’ mountain climbers Carabineer is used to hook the harness onto a tower rung (or looped around a fat rung using the Carabineer to reattach to the strap).

As pictures the “Hunter Safety System® Carabineer” is an aluminum alloy rated to 5,600 lbs, w/large knurled auto-locking nut costs ~$10ea. Do NOT use cheap key-carabineers’ from hardware stores that are not rated for any real weight nor strengthwhat is your life worth? All Safety ‘Carabineers’ should meet or exceed ANSI Z359.1, CSA Z259.12-01, EN 362:2004B and 100% proof loaded to 3600 lbs, min breaking load >5000 lbs.

(That’s me sitting on the 20’ cross member of the 100’ tri-array)

[Side story: We started out on a bright sunny day in 1988, to install a 220 remote base repeater system on Sunset Peak 5,600ft (just below Mt Baldy 10,900 ft) above the San Gabriel Valley, CA. We were on a 100’ tri-tower complex for hours when unexpected weather blew in. We were caught in thick fog (low clouds) that zeroed our visibility of the ground crew and then it turned into a blowing rain then to snow (blizzard). Since I was the only one with a two lanyard-belt I sent the other two below. During my hour descent I had to install all the hard-line clips and by the time I got to the ground my right side was a sheet of snow/ice. Do you know how slippery soaked leather gloves become on freezing galvanized metal? I religiously and slowly descended one rung at a time always re-hooking into the tower after every rung! As they say _hit happens BUT we did not check the WX before climbing as it was bright-n-sunny when we arrived – see picture!]

From years of experience and lessons learned - I highly recommend climbing with good boots. Putting all your weight on the Rohn-25 quarter-inch wire rungs really hurts in a very short time. If you are working on Rohn towers you will want solid shank boots. Old style Vietnam jungle boots with punji-stake steel bottom inserts works fine and these boots are still relatively cheap through surplus stores. Rohn-45/55G rungs are not horizontal but angled making your foot slide to the tower sides wedging your foot becoming quickly uncomfortable and even slicing your boot soles. http://

Never climb a tower without wearing leather gloves. The metal temperature can cause hand cramps, sliding your hands over metal burs will ruin your day, as well as bird stuff, rust, and flaking metal can make for slippery hand holds. Once you’re at the tower working position you may want to change your gloves to a thin rubberized skin workman’s type glove to improve your dexterity for tools/nuts/bolts!

Since I’m not getting any younger (or lighter) I find tower work more tiring than 25yrs ago. Standing on tower rungs hurts in time even with solid shank boots. What is needed is a standing platform to ease my discomforts and prolong my time aloft. Most tower companies sell platforms but are cost prohibitive and the platforms have a very small foot area. Since I’m a hunter and hunting tree stands are made to hold me aloft for long periods I gave it a try. I bought an economical ~$50 tree stand, to be my tower platform and it even has a seat so I may take scenic rest breaks. It does not get much better when relaxing on your tower top looking at your installed antennas or taking in the local vistas!

This may not be the conventional way of using a tree stand but the mechanics are nearly the same. If you decide to use a tree stand on Rohn-45/55G test it at ground level first to insure your tree clamping straps will reach and to verify your stand mounting strategy.

I placed the stand onto the Rohn tower and used a pre-sized bungee cord with hooks to temporarily hold the stand to the tower while I thread the retaining straps through the hand pump-lever winches. You MUST use both stand straps! The top will get most of the leverage from your weight but the bottom strap insures the stand will not kick out from the weight supporting rung. The straps only need to be snug but firmly in place to insure minimal movements of the stand. Beware of the platform cables as they can snag your boot – since you’re still harnessed in snagging this trip hazard should only momentarily get your heart to skip a few beats, but I’ll leave to your imagination what color your shorts have become.

Notice the bottom of the stand platform bracket is resting on the tower wire rung.

NEVER drag equipment up with you while you’re ascending, it may get snagged in a tower rung and the extra weight will accelerate your climbing fatigue much faster. The only item you should bring up with you is a rope that will easily reach the ground.

My Tenders (5gal) Bucket rig

There are a few methods to rig a tender rope, the simplest is to use a tower rung but it creates a lot of rope friction so I made my own Tender rig (pictured above). A Harbor Freight big Carabineer attached to a simple plastic pulley that runs a >¼” rope. My tender rope has two Poacher’s knots, one on each rope end that is connected by the same Carabineer. The Carabineer allows easy attachment of a Home-Depot™ 5-gal tender bucket that will hoist all the tools/water/towels/etc aloft. This rope method makes a complete loop and allows the noload rope to be used as a guide-rope keeping the bucket from snagging the tower.

If I’m installing a rotor or needing to hoist items larger than my tender bucket I will install my Tender outrigger arm. The arm keeps the tender bucket/load away from the tower. This home-made arm is 2”x1/4” steel angle ‘L’ about 4’ long; holes are drilled to allow attaching ¼”x20 ‘U’ clamps (TV mast type) to the tower vertical pipes. I use ¼-20 wing nuts on the U clamps to lessen my tools aloft. The other end of the outrigger arm is a hole to hang the tender rig.

Remember, to ALWAYS have a guide rope on any load going aloft. The guide rope is used to keep the load away from the tower so nothing snags the tower, guy, or electrical wires – but remember to insure the climbers can untie the guide rope. I’ve seen guide rope attached to the reflector/boom end of a HF yagi beam to only discover there was no way to untie the rope when it was installed in place – this mistake usually only happens once!

There is ONLY one ground Commander while the monkey(s) are swinging on the tower, period! The Commander issues all hoisting commands (getting queues from the Lead Climber) while all others on the ground are quite mules. This is not the time to argue or have turf battles. During the pre-evolution Safety briefing a clear chain-ofcommand was established! This may seem harsh and overly bearing but this tower evolution is all about success and SUCCESS MEANS SAFETY --- a boisterous or arguing ground crew is unsafe!

In the purest of safety methods every tool has a tether string tied to it. But this is not practical. I found a different method - using two magnetic tool strip holders (bolted back to back) to easily hold tools aloft. I place the strip onto the tower and ONLY use it to hold my ‘actively’ in-use tools. (I move all unused tools to the tender-bucket as soon as possible.) Another handy use is to hold steel screws/bolts/nuts/washers until needed! http:// ~$5ea.

ABSOLUTE RULES for ground crews are to wear eye protection; safety glasses are the best but sunglasses at a minimum. If you’re a ground crew member getting closer than 25’ to the tower you should wear hard a hat, as stuff falls much faster then you will hear someone screaming “incoming”. A falling tool can bounce off tower rungs and fly! CLIMBERS, if a tool (or anything) is dropped immediately scream “INCOMING” or the attention word (here is where a four letter word may be appropriate) to get all to look up and duck-n-cover.

Needless to say, beer/booze is for AFTER the climbers touch the ground!

I’m sure there are many more items to be considered, this article is only a starter to get you thinking. I hope this article helps your next tower-party; if it prevents an injury or saves a life it was worth my time in writing and your time in reading!

Writer BIO: Dale Kubichek, BS/MS-EET, GROL/RADAR, N6JSX - Amateur Extra; first licensed in 1972. Served 10yrs USN, Vietnam Vet, FTG1 Gun/Missile systems & electronics instructor. Electronics Test/MFG/QA Engineer & Program Manager, in; aerospace - Hughes, Northrop, Rockwell, HawkerBeechcraft; commercial - Magellan, Mitsubishi, Emerson-Copeland; heavy construction - TEREX, Manitowoc Cranes, Magnetek; communications – Hughes, STM, RockwellCollins. Currently, a USAF SPO Sr. Engineer on UAV SIMs. Interests are in designing/testing antennas, RDF hunting/training, SAT OPs; published numerous articles in 73 Magazine,, WI Badger Smoke Signals,
Owner of: , , and many more.

Member Comments:
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Tower-Party Safety  
by KB6QXM on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
This has to be one of the most well-prepared, detailed and well written articles that I have ever seen on eham. This article should be put into a Pdf and used as a checklist for a tower party.

I have personally tried to have a tower party myself. In the "good old days" when you mentioned a tower party, people would line up to help their fellow ham and enjoy the beer and BBQ after the tower was put up with whatever antenna you chose. When I sent out an invitation to my local club about a tower party, I received only one response and that was "how much are you going to pay me" I ended up buying two tower trailers due to that experience and will be walking away from my local ham club. I do not know if it the hams in my club, hams in general now or that they did not want to help, but that was my experience.

I am glad to see that tower parties still do exist.

Again, my hat is off to the author. Good job!
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by WA8MEA on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I wish I could get a tower party going. All the hams here are too old to lift much. (Including me....) I try to get young guys in the neighborhood to help....offering to pay them handsomely, but they blow it off. I even called a TV antenna tower installation company and they didn't want to do it because it was a tilt-over tower. They said they would take the antenna to the top and install it themselves and I said no....I want to install it and do it right so it needs to be tilted over. They refused.

And so a bad antenna remains in the air....

73, Bill - WA8MEA
Tower-Party Safety  
by KG4RUL on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
This may just fill the bill for a working check-list:
Tower-Party Safety  
by W1ITT on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
What's my life worth? A whole lot more than a deer hunters tree stand harness costs. Real ANSI certified full body harnesses are readily available, and I believe that anyone working on a tower should own his own harness. I never climb in a borrowed rig, simply because I don't know how well it's been taken care of, or if the previous wearer used the lanyard to pull his pickup truck out of the ditch.
Also, on broadcast tower crews, when someone on the tower drops something, the call is "Headache"! And that means protect yourself. Resist the temptation to look up, as your safety helmet isn't much good in that position.
One of the best observations in this article is that there needs to be one clearly defined boss when working aloft. This is not the time for everyone to be shouting commands and confusing things. Save the debate for the beer afterwards.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by KB2FCV on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article!! Thank you for sharing, a must read for anyone thinking of putting up a tower.
Tower-Party Safety  
by NK7J on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Well written article.
For the sake of everyone use a ANSI approved harness and shock absorbing lanyard for your dorsal ring.
As a certified tower climbing/rescue instructor your pic of the tree stand harness about gave me a heart attack. A good DBI, Elk River, Yates or other purpose made tower climbing harness is not THAT much money compared to the cost of towers and antennas.

Also always have your primary and backup systems attached at the same time, while climbing your arms and legs are primary and in most cases a Shock absorbing lanyard (SAL) connected to your dorsal ring is your backup should you slip. When in position to work, use a work positioning lanyard to allow free use of hands and your SAL as your backup. Remember, your SAL needs to be connected to a anchor point capable of 5000lbs of force, so dont use the cross pieces on a rohn 25 or even 45, they are not strong enough. It would really suck to survive a fall into your SAL only to have your anchor point fail.
One more point on the SAL, if this is your secondary, use a dual system so you have two hooks to use, so one is ALWAYS connected. I myself prefer the miller POY lanyards.

Tower-Party Safety  
by NK7J on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Another thought after looking at the pics more closely.
On that hunting harness without the leg attachments your asking for TROUBLE.
Proper fitting ANSI harnesses always have leg loops and direct fall forces to your pelvic area instead of your back. Without the leg loops that harness is going to wind up around your arm pits and neck in the event of a fall. With that thing wrapped up under your arms try rescuing your self from that position, that is if it didn't break your back or arms.
To top it off in that position you will only have about 15-25 mins to live, its well documented from OSHA case studies that just becuase you survive the fall, if you cannot perform a self rescue or get the pressure off your torso (especially around your lower rib cage or neck) that you will literally die from asphyxiation in well under a half hour.

Dont mean to sound so dark about a hobby we do for fun, but tower climbing should be taken very seriously and not performed by someone not capable or experienced.

RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by K6AER on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Having just read this article I hardly don’t know where to begin.

I am a Comtrain and Safety One trained climbing instructor with 40 years climbing experience. Although the article is somewhat well written many of the examples of what is shown is against OSHA rules and defy common sense.

• First off all hardware must be ANSI and OSHA approved. The hardware is just hunting tree stand hardware and is totally wrong for hardware work.

• The fall safety lanyard MUST HAVE A BREAKWAY STRAP that slows the fall ad be rated for 5000 lbs.

• The hardware must be rated for 5000 lbs.

• The positioning strap must be able to hold 3800 lbs.

• The harness shown does not meet ANSI regulations. For GOD sakes don’t use anything but an approved climbing harness.

• All tower climbing hardware must be rated for 5000 lbs including any carabineers or clamps.

• All hardware must have ANSI tags with manufacture and ratings as well as date of manufacture stamped or tagged.

The list could go on but you get the idea. You must be in shape to climb towers and you always need another tower climber should you get into trouble. You need proper training. YOU NEED A RESCUE PLANE AND RESCUE HARDWARE. On really tall towers the fire department may not be or able to rescue you . You and your safety climber will affect the tower rescue.

I know HAM’s like the idea of doing everything their self but some things should be left up to professionals. Having a bunch of cluless hams on the ground with no idea of what comes next can cause more harm than good.

If you are hanging in a harness for over 5 minutes injured and you are lowered to the ground does anyone know about suspension trauma?

Last point is if you walk up to a tower and it is rusted like the one in the first picture, use a man lift . The tower shown in picture is not rated for climbing.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by K8QV on October 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Holy horse muffins! I'm sure glad my tower is already installed; I'd never attempt such a dangerous mission after reading this.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by KC6KIM on October 5, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Glad you mentioned the points of safety in you post, especially suspension trauma & not to mention reflow syndrome. Please read these links:

Looking at the pics I too noticed there were some duty rated shortcomings with the climbing hardware.

One weekend of training with safety one was worth every dime and moment of time spent. Especially noteworthy were the regulations which were presented with power-point in BOLD RED.... - they were written with blood, we got the message-.

Anthony A. Andrianos
kc6kim "Tower Dog"
Tower-Party Safety  
by K1CJS on October 5, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
No matter how well written or how comprehensive the article seems to be, the one thing left out of it is this. If you're going to want a tower of any appreciable height and a good, properly installed antenna on it, DO NOT try to do it without being absolutely certain you know what you're doing!

It doesn't make sense to have a half way done job--and yourself or a friend injured--because you didn't know what you're doing. If you can afford a tower, you can afford to have it installed PROFESSIONALLY.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by N6AJR on October 5, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
This is an excellent article. I do like the use of a hunters rigs to ty the climber to the tower and the tower stand.

BUT I don't know if your home insurance will cove you using this. You may need to purchase a "real" climbing harness ( 700 bucks for a really good one??) and a real step for the tower is probably safer.

Another thing you need to be sure of is the gin pole and be sure the climber know how to use it and it is strong enough for the stuff you are lifting.

A good tower party is actually fun and there is usually a new person or two who has never do this so proper procedure is very important too as a learning tool.

I am a old disabled guy and have my friends come over to help with my sky work, and I I would hate for some one working on my behalf to end up hurt or worse.

This is serious stuff and should be treated as such.
Towers don't have to be the ultimate choice  
by AI2IA on October 5, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Any article on amateur radio safety is good for us all.

However let us just for a moment take a different perspective on the antenna.

Consider that you don't "need" a tower to get height for your antenna. You can use a slingshot or other means to shoot up a good dependable wire antenna or more than one.

Consider that a yagi or beam is nice, but then you need a rotator, too! A ground mounted vertical is omnidirectional, and you won't miss a weaker signal from a treasured DX entity because your expensive beam antenna on your expensive rotator is facing the wrong way.

Those tower antennas are nice, but the wind can be strong. Nothing takes the wind better than a well installed wire antenna.

Your ideal tower will probably need a team to put it up safely, but you and one ham buddy equally qualified can safely put up a good wire antenna.

These are economically tough times. You can't eat your tower if you have to, but you can sock away the money saved by putting up a wire antenna, and you can use that money for real emergency spending for yourself or family when the time comes.

Think. Don't be in a rush to fulfill your dream, and spend wisely.

Vy 73,
de Ray, ai2ia
RE: Towers don't have to be the ultimate choice  
by AE5QB on October 6, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
+1 AI2IA. The best response to a nice article. We tend to be obsessed with the best and the biggest, but we can't have everything. But everyone can be happy. We just need to learn to be happy with what we have instead of longing for what the other guy has.
Tower-Party Safety  
by KF5PKF on October 6, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
The additional discussion about the tree stand was great. Am heading to Bass Pro this morning. At age 70 it is not easy to maintain any time at the top. Thanks for the article. It should be required reading for all new hams. (and us old guys too !)
RE: Towers don't have to be the ultimate choice  
by KB1GMX on October 7, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
While I agree with AI2IA there are times when more is
needed to achieve ones goals.

I'm a VHF/UHF op mostly and use wire for HF. For VHF
and up towers are the usual thing. while wire works
well on 6M the rule is beams for weak signal are a
must and rotating trees is fraught with difficulty.

My compromise comes from my younger days I had tower a
climbing experience and nearly walked off a job from
it. It can be very dangerous even with full harness
when you find the structure was not 100%. The side
effect of that was I don't climb anything even a
ladder over about 15ft since.

So when I came time for my tower it's a folding affair
so I can work from the ground with a ground based
lowering system. That limited me to 30ft with the
materials available (Rohn 25G)and as it works out that
was enough. Higher towers are possible if they are
designed to be lowered in some way. But the question
is DO I need xxx foot and the answer is NO. I can't
climb it or maintain it and hiring others to do it
is very expensive. By keeping it modest I can lower
it anytime and change out antennas to suit my mood or
to test improved models. Everyone makes different

So yes, keeping it real or at least practical to maintain
is possible with out climbing.

Climbers don't have to be the ultimate sacrificice  
by K4RAF on October 7, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Go back up & read K6AER's comments...

He is TRAINED & CERTIFIED in tower climbing...

I was a tower climber for many years, up to the early stages of OSHA rules. If I had someone hand me a joke harness like the one pictured here, I'd cut it up on site so no one climbed!!! Camo should be your first clue people...
This kind of "amateur advice" & conduct is the reason why so many tower owners SHUN ham installations on their structures! I know, I work for one such owner & I don't apologize for his policy. It's HIS LIABILITY...

Tower climbing is NOT a GAME!
It can have DEADLY results!
Tower-Party Safety  
by KD4LLA on October 7, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Last spring I purchased a ANSI approved harness and shock absorbing lanyard to do sheetmetal roofing with. The cost was less than $150 from Northern Tools. I would never trust my life to a deer hunters "safety" harness... I am not sitting on a tree stand 40 feet up a tower either, that's why I hire a guy with a bucket-lift.

RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by W6LAR on October 7, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Michael is spot on! I spent 30 of my 45 years at GTE/Verizon doing Comm tower work and Microwave. The OSHA and ANSI standards was the best thing to happen for us as a lot of early stuff was done with just the typical pole climbers positioning belts used by installers and outside construction forces. You can slip out of those in a heart beat.

I ALWAYS purchased my own gear and the cost was really not that much considering what is at stake. I pushed the company to move from the old belts to a complete fall stop harness system. It was much harder to get them to provide proper training. One other thing that is somewhat closely related is RF exposure and that is more typical of mountaintop radio sites with multiple comm sites. I have and still carry a Narda pager sized rf monitor when going to my repeaters or anyplace else with a lot of RF potential.

Got to admit, that camo vest caused a "What the ???" when I saw it as did the condition of the tower. BTW, some painted towers look fine but dig into the paint to see if there is any metal left under it. You should see what a coastal atmosphere can do the a galvanized tower in a short time.

Tower-Party Safety  
by WB6DGN on October 8, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Am I to take these comments to mean that you folks do not approve of that guy that climbed the 1700' tower without any safety gear in that video going around a year or two ago? I'm guessing that he had a bet going with someone over it and I'm thinking he made a lot of money doing it. And, surprise, if he did, he's still around to spend it.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by K1CJS on October 8, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
There are some people who are blessed with gifts who have enough confidence and ability to do free climbing on towers and those who are not. People who are clumsy or have no natural ability for climbing don't even belong on a stepladder!

I have no doubt that there are people who can and will climb such towers as Tom has just stated without safety equipment. There are people who can and will do things that others won't.

I believe what is being said here is this--If you are able to and know what you're doing, go for it. If not, stay away. But it still seems that people who do climb without safety equipment simply do not know what they're actually chancing, and so don't really know what they're doing!
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by G3LBS on October 9, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
The best things in life are free. I am a vegetarian but I eat people - cannibalism is better and less expensive than war for thinning the population. Tower climbing is probably the next best thing.
Tower-Party Safety  
by N5UQG on October 9, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
This artical should be removed before someone tries this and gets hurt or worse. It is a great topic but the use of this type of equipment is just inviting disaster. I have been through the Comtrain's school, it is one of the best at teaching safe tower practices.
If your going to climb a tower, do it right and with the right equipment.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by N5TEN on October 9, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I only wear a full body climbing harness with a fall arrest system from my top back ring with two 100% attachment hooks. I also have a rope lanyard AND a three hook lanyard attached on my hip rings. The rope lanyard has to be taken off to get around guys and side mounted antennas, so I hook on with my three hook lanyard and fall arrest. I always have at least one hook on the tower, but when I change out the rope lanyard or shift sides on the tower, I hook on with THREE attachments AND the rope lanyard when I'm positioning.

I would NOT use a tree stand or any hunting, tree climbing gear for tower work. If you do, it's at your own peril. I would not feel comfortable sitting on a tree stand up there. The boots are a good idea, but get narrow boots with a heal so you can fit both feet on the rung. My big camo boots are too wide for the tower. I would also wear a safety helmet. This can be a bike helment or a construction helmet. Make sure it secures to your chin, so it doesn't fall off.

Another tip... always carry up two of the same tool, so if you drop one, you have another.

AND... instead of "mules", just get yourself a good winch or use an ATV with a winch. Have your helper sit on the ATV and run the winch up and down via radio.
by WB9QEL on October 9, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I have more fun with my 520 Kenwood, little power from a old Drake L-7, and my simple wire antennas. Not much money spent, don't have to worry about someone killing themselves, and I still fellowship with other hams.


by N5TEN on October 11, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I did that for 18 years and had no idea what I was missing out there until my SteppIR went up on the top of my tower. The difference is like night and day. :)
Tower-Party Safety  
by VE7RWN on October 11, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Good article overall, with a few shortcomings pointed out by others. Having climbed for many years, and taken a number of courses on Fall Protection as well as High Angle Rescue, I would only recomend the use of rated equipment. A rated, good quality fall protection outfit with full body harness, permanantly attached shock absorbing lanyard, lifeline and carabiners is about 200 bucks here in the Vancouver BC area. Using someone elses equipment is like wearing someone elses socks.......It might work, but do you really want to risk it?
The other issue is one of what if a rescue is needed. Hanging by the dorsal ring is no fun. I used to set up a rig so that guys would know what it felt like to hang in a harness by the dorsal a few inches off the ground, and challenge them to self rescue. Most of the guys were in great shape and could not do it. A rescue plan is a must which means someone on the ground must be trained. The local Fire Dept may not be able to get to you quickly enough. Maybe they won't be able to get thier truck to the tower site which means a second man on the tower. Will the tower hold a second man?
The last point is the tools. I know it is a pain, but the tools must be tethered. A hardhat will not stop a screwdriver falling from 40 feet. Tests have shown this repeatedly. A survey of the required tools on the ground, and tying them off only takes a few minutes. I use #5 braided pull start rope and small cargo biners and find it works well. With a little planning of the position of the tools around my waist, the tool lanyards rarely get tangled.
Overall, I like the article, as it raises the point,
Which is cheaper, a pro tower crew, or your life and limb?

Rob, ve7rwn
Tower-Party Safety  
by K9KUZ on October 11, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Great article and great comments. I feel sorry for the hams that cannot get help in their area from others. I asked my friends (and others) at two local clubs and last Saturday they erected my 52' crank-up tower with new SteppIR. I needed 8 for the project, 11 showed up (plus 3 later).... 2 had prior experience and appropriate climbing gear.
Tower-Party Safety  
by N4PSN on October 13, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
You know this is the most reduclas artical I have ever seen. You are going to get some one KILLED. NONE of the equipment is OSHA approved. You don't have a tower raising Party. You fave skilled workers that know whats going on, with the climber in command and the ground crew with minimal talking on the ground watching for things to go wrong.
My friend your idea is giving everyone the idea that tower work is childs play and that is wrong. I would use this artical as WHAT NOT TO DO.
Sorry but I don't want to read about any more hams being KILLED doing tower work. We are suppose to enjoy the hobby not be killed by it.

BE Sefe.
Thanks, W4LES
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by N6JSX on October 14, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
"The Treestand Manufacturing Association (TMA) made reference to and incorporated several sections of ANSI Z359 as their standards for fall arrest harnesses. These standards have been approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). Although the TMA has no legal authority to enforce these standards on any harness manufacture, they don't have too. The TMA is the recognized leader in treestand product safety. Most retailers, due to liability issues, won't sell a harness unless it has been certified to TMA standards.

Before a harness manufacture can use the TMA Approved Logo on their packaging, they must first be a member of TMA, have their package information and instructional DVD compliant with TMA standards and have the harness certified to TMA standards TMS 06-02. There are two main tests that a harness must pass to be certified to TMS 06-02. They are TMS 7.1 Performance Test and TMS 8.1 Dynamic Strength Test."

To insure the obvious is stated clearly stated and not inferred - make sure anything you use to climb a tower is TMA &/or ANSI/ASTM approved. Much like the Carabineer specs included in the article.

The fundamental point of this article is to THINK and use common-sense for a SAFE and successful tower-party (yes, I know common-sense is not equal to all, especially HAMs and arm-chair guru's).
Tower-Party Safety  
by N6TA on October 14, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Gotta agree with K6AER and Nk7J: Get the right fall arrest harness and lanyard to cushion the fall. It is a small price to pay for safety and it feels good to know you are limiting your risk. Ever had a bee fly into your eye at 60'? I did and it was a wake up call to get safe.
Most approved full body harnesses have a D-ring on the upper back where you connect the fall arrest lanyard. You do not connect to the positioning belt which also has (or shoud have) D-rings. Those are for the positioning lanyard (not that old rope).
Consider a fall arrest lanyard that has two connections in a Y format: one to the D-ring and one always attached to the tower when climbing.
Your positioning belt is not a 'climbing belt', by the way. Those linemans belts are for poles, not towers.
Thing twice or three times before buying that used harness or lanyard. They have expiration dates and it is for a good reason.
Also, the CQ article in September's issue looks pretty sketchy and I am surprised it was published.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by N1BIL on October 22, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Wow! After reading this and the comments about this article, I wonder if anyone is qualified to put up a tower. I think I will stick with my tilt-over tower. No climbing necessary.
Tower-Party Safety  
by K1CJS on October 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, there are people qualified to put up a tower and climb it to install antennas. The author of this piece, however, seems to be advocating the use of climbing equipment not suitable for tower work. That is inviting disaster.

I've already said it and I'll repeat it--if you're able to afford a tower, you're able to afford to have it installed/serviced in the RIGHT way, and that means professionally.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by AC7CW on October 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Lock the kids away. I was helping a friend with a tower, we were tilting it up by hand when it started to feel like it would fall my way, I look over my shoulder and his two incorrigible boys are standing right where it's going to hit them after being told a dozen times to stay away. I had to strain my back to keep it from going over.
RE: Tower-Party Safety  
by WB8LBZ on November 6, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I work for Uncle Sam. My job includes climbing towers. Before I climbed more than 2 story roof ladder I asked to go to tower climbing school. Thank you U.S. Tax Payers, I attended a school run by the FBI in Virginia. First Day we were seated at a 3x8 table with a pile of equipment. 3 days of classroom instruction on the equipment, how to use it and how to tell if it was no longer serviceable. Day 4 and 5 were on the tower using the equipment we learned about in class. I always use 3 points of contact when I climb. I won't climb without a fall restraint. All of the ground party MUST have a hard hat. A safety briefing is held before the first man gets on the tower (assignments/jobs are given out). All persons have an assignment or they don't get within 50 feet of the tower. All of my tools I take up have a rope on them tied to my harness. I was injured on a climb in 2007 (hernia) and am on light duty now. I would not use a belt since they were outlawed by OSHA in 1995 for Govt use.

73, Larry WB8LBZ
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