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Author Topic: Safe tower climbing - what equipment is needed?  (Read 5637 times)
HS0ZIB
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Posts: 410




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« on: September 20, 2011, 05:31:57 PM »

My apologies if this important topic has been covered in previous posts - I was unable to locate relevant threads

I will shortly be the lucky owner of a 12 meter mast.  Even though this mast is relatively low in height, falling from the top will be rather 'terminal'

My previous QTH had a 10 meter water tower, which I would happily climb without any safety harness, and would then tie an old piece of rope around my waist if I needed to stand on top of a ladder to work on my antennas.  My dear wife would have kittens seeing me do this - and I don't blame her.

With my new mast, (15 inch triangular section), there really is not a lot to grab if one falls from the top, so I want to be sure that if I loose my footing etc, then there is a proven method of stopping my fall etc.

Can experienced members please advise me as to what safety/climbing equipments and procedures I should use?

Thanks

Simon
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HS0ZJU
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Posts: 163




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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2011, 08:17:59 PM »

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tower-Climbing-Safety-Belt-NEW-/200654849154?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb7f60482
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13040




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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2011, 09:07:42 PM »

That helps to keep you from falling when you are working on the tower, but it doesn't help you much once
you are actually falling.  A 2m rope tied to one of those rings will stop you from hitting the ground, but
your insides won't be happy about it, as the rest of your body will flop around in the process.

Though, I have to admit, I've climbed a number of towers and/or poles using such a belt, or worse.  You
put a strap around the tower and lean back against it.  The problem is, when you slip, the strap has nothing
to catch on, and can slide down with you, still around the tower, until you reach the next lower impediment.
This is like the traditional telephone pole climber's belt, where spikes on the boots were what kept you
up, and it was not uncommon for folks to take a slide down the pole when the spikes slipped on occasion
(collecting a chest- and face-full of splinters along the way).

Your weight is still on your legs while you are working, and they can get pretty tired after 4 hours up there.

A better approach for fall protection is a full body harness, designed to turn you upright when it catches you
and spreads the impact around your body more.  Usually that looks like a combination sit harness (that
goes between your legs so you can't slip out) and chest harness (that keeps you upright.)

Having spent time in Search and Rescue, I often wear my rock climbing harness under the standard
safety belt:  the belt is more convenient to hold me in place while working, and the harness catches
me if I fall, and also allows me to rest with my weight off my legs.  I use a carabiner clipped to the
tower for my safety (on the harness) and a conventional strap around the tower on the belt.  I also
generally have at least two spare carabiners on short pieces of webbing or prussic cord so I can clip
in at one point before unclipping the previous safety rope.


If there is a local rock climbing shop, they probably can set you up with what you need.  I also use
my climbing ropes and pulleys to hoist up the antennas, etc.
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K3GM
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Posts: 1769




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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 04:29:34 AM »

This is what I use:
  • -Proper footwear. Boots with a heavy sole and a steel arch
  • -3 point full body harness
  • -Fall arrest lanyard
  • -2 stationary lanyards.  I will not for any reason unclip to pass over a guy.  I throw the loose one over the top and hook it before unhooking the other.
  • -Hard hat.  I was "brained" some years ago by a 1/2" deep socket dropped from above.  Fortunately, I was wearing a hard hat at the time.

Another piece of equipment that I use is a work platform.  It makes working up on the tower a breeze, and prevents fatigue.  Install it once, and it's always there to use again.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2011, 04:32:06 AM by K3GM » Logged
K0JEG
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Posts: 639




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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 11:07:07 AM »

http://www.amazon.com/Dbi-sala-1108652-Exofit-Harness-Climbing/dp/B000KL4KOG is one example of what to look for. Maybe overkill with the bosan's chair style seat, but you get the idea.

Boots should have 1" heel and steel shank (although lots of people like fiberglass for comfort during other tasks).

Hardhat. Leather gloves.

Fall-arrest should have 2 lanyards, one for each hand as you climb. Also have a strap so that once you are at the work site you can tie off and have 2 hands available.

Pouch on the side for hand tools and small parts. Also a ropeline and 5gal bucket for pulling up parts after you get to the work site. Don't climb with anything other than your fall-arrest hooks in your hands.

Don't forget your brain!

Back when I climbed telephone poles for a living I got to ride an elevator down to the ground one afternoon. Not fun at all, and a scar on my abdomen as a reminder! I can only imagine how much worse it would have been if I were up at tower heights. Don't get me wrong, I like to climb towers and poles, but it is not something that should be taken with a grain of salt. My employer requires me to re-certify every year, with good reason.

Take your time, understand the risks and have fun.
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MAGNUM257
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Posts: 159




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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 12:05:40 PM »

Though, I have to admit, I've climbed a number of towers and/or poles using such a belt, or worse.  You
put a strap around the tower and lean back against it.  The problem is, when you slip, the strap has nothing
to catch on, and can slide down with you, still around the tower, until you reach the next lower impediment.

The correct way to use this belt is to wrap the strap THROUGH the tower and not around it, then it catches on the rung below it IF you slip (not WHEN Smiley )
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13040




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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 12:11:02 PM »

That's fine when you are working, but not for the climb up or down, when you'd have to unhook the
strap, pull it out from the tower, thread it in through the next opening and rehook it for each step.
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MAGNUM257
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Posts: 159




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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2011, 12:39:45 PM »

That's fine when you are working, but not for the climb up or down, when you'd have to unhook the
strap, pull it out from the tower, thread it in through the next opening and rehook it for each step.

Agreed, it is a pain in the butt, but will prevent the fall down the tower (if it happens).
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K0JEG
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Posts: 639




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« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2011, 04:51:05 PM »

That's fine when you are working, but not for the climb up or down, when you'd have to unhook the
strap, pull it out from the tower, thread it in through the next opening and rehook it for each step.

The technique you describe is sort of like hitch-hiking up a telephone pole. Not something that should be used on a tower.

Use a proper fall-arrest (one for each hand) when going to the worksite.
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M6GOM
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Posts: 877




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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2011, 01:00:37 PM »

Watch from 30 seconds to a minute. Its a mate of mine climbing up a tower to take an antenna down.

You'll see the kind of harness you want to get. It has two large hooks you put on the tower as you go up. If you fall, they're attached to a web strap about 6ft long coiled into the back of the harness that is designed to slow you as you fall without killing you or giving you internal injuries. You'll also see how he hooks himself onto it every few feet...

The reason it was called the tower of doom is because it had been unused for 20 years, the first half of the ladder was barely held on and there were quite a few bolts missing.....

Apologies for the language....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyBAxhkjphI
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KB1NXE
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Posts: 301




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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2011, 07:43:47 AM »

Bottom line is the 4 items already mentioned.  Harness with fall arrest and tie offs, Solid boots, Gloves and a hard hat.  Get the best equipment you can find.  Even if it cost you more than you want to pay.  Buy it!  You should NEVER compromise on your safety or the safety of those around you.  The cost it too high and too dear!

That first harness, I wouldn't even use to climb a 6 foot step ladder.  That second link, well, I have one just like it.  As for your hard hat.  Get something better than the local hardware store variety hard hat.  The one I have is made by Petzl and cost over $100.00.  You will not get a second chance if you compromise and purchase cheaper stuff to save a few dollars!  Once you are injured or dead, those couple of bucks (euros) will NEVER help.
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