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[TowerTalk] Fall Protection Suggestion

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Fall Protection Suggestion
From: (Dan Levin)
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 16:48:26 -0700 (PST)
I've asked enough questions and received enough great 
advice on TT - I wanted to try to contribute 
something for a change :-)

In my recent installation of a Trylon 72' tower, I 
decided to install a 'professional' fall protection 
system.  I've been very happy with the results, and 
want to encourage others to think about taking a 
similar approach.

Most towers that I have seen and/or climbed have no 
fall protection system installed.  The climber uses a 
fall protection lanyard, either with a single clip or 
a forked lanyard with two clips.  In either case, you 
either have to climb unprotected (efficient, but very 
dangerous), or clip and unclip every couple of steps 
up and down the tower.  With a single lanyard, every 
unclip to move your protection is risky.  With a 
double lanyard you don't have the risk, but you still 
have the hassle of moving your protection every 
couple of steps.

In at least some (maybe all, I don't know) 
professional tower installations, a permanent fall 
protection system is put in place.  These systems use 
a track or cable to provide 100% continuous fall 
protection to the climber.

On my Trylon, I installed a steel cable that is 
securely attached at the top of the tower, and runs 
down one face.  I used spacers at the top and bottom 
to keep the cable off the tower face.  A "trailing 
rope grab", an OSHA approved device that clamps on to 
the cable in the event of a fall, clips on to my fall 
protection lanyard and follows me up and down the 
tower as I climb.  I am protected all the time, and 
don't ever have to unclip my lanyard.  This system 
allows me to climb quickly and securely, without 
danger and without the nuisance of managing my 
protection on my way up and down the tower.

I bought an 80' length of 5/16" galvanized steel 
cable from for $.42/ft.  The 
cable attaches around a leg and to my thrust bearing 
plate at the top of the tower using 3 cable clamps 
per the manufacturer's spec.  It then runs through a 
12" long 1" wide 1/8" thick piece of galvanized steel 
that serves solely to space the cable off the face of 
the tower.  I bought the spacer steel at a local 
Orchard Supply Hardware store, and had a local 
machine shop bend at 90 degrees at one end (to hook 
over the brace of the tower) and drill a hole at one 
end for a 1/4" bolt (to hold it to the tower brace) 
and at the other end to allow the cable to pass 

The cable then runs down the face of the tower to a 
second identical spacer at the bottom of the tower.  
A single clamp below the lower spacer provides enough 
tension to keep the cable straight and spaced off the 
tower face.

Imagine at this point a 5/16" cable running parallel 
to and about 12 inches from one face of the tower.  I 
installed my tower intending to climb the north 
facing 'nose' (to keep the sun out of my eyes), so I 
installed the cable on the face that is to my left as 
I climb.

Then I bought a Miller Microloc trailing rope grab 
from  The rope grab is designed for 
use with 5/16" steel cable.  The grab clips on to the 
fall arrest lanyard.  It runs along the cable, and at 
least in the upward direction it just slides along 
the cable behind me as I climb.  Going downward it 
sometimes requires that I reach out and slide it down 
the cable, which is no hassle.  I think if I had 
chosen a more expensive grab, it would trail going 
down more easily.

The summary is that for around $200 ($116 for the 
Microloc, $35 for the cable, a few bucks for the 
clamps, spacers, etc.), I have a full time reliable 
fall protection system.  In the context of a multi-
thousand dollar tower system, $200 seems well worth 
it.  You might consider adding such a system to your 
tower(s) if you climb them much.  It sure makes me 
feel safer than climbing towers without them.

All the best, and safe climbing,

              ***dan, K6IF

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