[TowerTalk] Re: TowerTalk Digest, Vol 20, Issue 73

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 25 13:38:17 EDT 2004

At 05:16 AM 8/25/2004 -0400, Csamiam5 at aol.com wrote:
>Would you climb a tower built by some one other than a pro?
>   Sammy F. Smith
I think the more relevant question is whether you'd climb a tower built by 
someone competent.

While professionals (in the sense that they get paid to build towers for a 
living) carry liability insurance (hopefully), and if they've been in 
business a while, presumably have some practical experience (and would have 
left the business if incompetent), being paid to do something doesn't 
guarantee competence.

Likewise, an amateur is perfectly capable of building a well engineered and 
safe tower installation.

The real question is one along the lines of:
"I'm standing in front of this tower, how likely do I think it's going to 
have a problem?"

If the tower were built and installed by a professional with longstanding 
good reputation, I wouldn't think the problem likely, and presuming the 
tower "looked ok", I'd hook up my PPE and have at it.  If it were installed 
by a professional who I didn't know (personally or by reputation) and 
especially if it looked "weird" (like rusted hardware, or obvious big dings 
in the components), or it was recently painted or regalvanized, I might 
want to know a bit more about where it came from and its history, and might 
want to check the installation details a bit more.

Exactly the same would be true if it were an amateur.

After all, all it takes to be a "professional", is to hang out your shingle 
and get that business license.  It's not like being a Professional Engineer 
(with the capital letters) where there is some education, experience, and 
testing required (not that licensure guarantees quality or honesty, as 
would be evident from the newsletters I get from the California Board of 
PEs).  And, from the licensed contractor standpoint, all that does is 
impose some requirements for bonding/insurance, and ensures that the 
contractor company meets certain requirements for how they do 
business.  Not much about the inherent quality of the work factors into a 
contractor's license (at least in CA).

I suppose if a licensed professional were to be truly incompetent, they 
might get their license revoked, or they'd become uninsurable (after enough 
disasters), and then their license would get pulled, however that's a many 
year process.

Being a licensed professional myself, I think that the value comes from:
1) The odds are better that the professional is going to do "the right 
thing", just by experience (which you can verify, see #2, below).
2) A professional has usually done it before, and will have no problem with 
a customer calling previous customers to check on or go look at other 
examples of their work.
3) A professional will generally do things in a more rigorous and 
consistent way.  In the case of engineering studies, they get done in a 
certain way, with certain standard analyses, etc.  The added rigor makes it 
less likely that something was overlooked.
3) If a disaster or just something unexpected DOES occur, the pro is more 
likely to have the resources and inclination to "make good".

A secondary benefit is the idea of "professional ethics and 
responsibility", but I am cynical enough after having worked in the 
entertainment industry to know that not all folks who claim to be 
professional, really are, in the "professionalism" sense.  Perhaps the 
Reaganesque: "trust but verify" philosophy is best?

Jim Lux, P.E. #E16972

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