[TowerTalk] Tower Incident Survey

Bill Coleman aa4lr at arrl.net
Thu Dec 27 10:09:00 EST 2007

On Oct 26, 2007, at 7:09 PM, Doug Renwick wrote:

> The Question:  Has your life been saved by you using a full body  
> harness
> and fall arrest lanyard as intended?

I'll answer the question with a story.

A local ham named Paul borrowed climbing gear and an antenna analyzer  
(when they were pretty new) from another local ham named Dan. Paul was  
very excited to climb his tower and make some adjustments using the  
analyzer. It was a slightly drizzly November day, and Paul couldn't  
get any of the locals to come to his house. So, he climbed the tower  

Paul had a full body harness with a fall arrest lanyard. However, it  
is believed he was climbing the tower with the antenna analyzer in  
hand, so as not to damage it.

It is unknown how high he climbed. He apparently lost his grip  
somewhere during the ascent and fell. He landed on the stump of a  
shrub and bled out. He was discovered by his wife and kids when they  
returned from shopping a couple of hours later.

Recently, Dan downsized his house and sold off his tower gear. He was  
talking to another ham at a hamfest about "that" tower climbing harness.

Paul had the proper safety gear with him. Unfortunately, he did not  
use it correctly and that lead to his death.

I never met Paul. He died just a few months before I moved into the  
area. Dan told me the story just before I put up my tower. Because of  
this, I have three inviolate rules that I follow when climbing my tower:

1) NEVER climb alone. (I always have a ground person whose job it is  
to call 911 should anything happen -- even if it means I have to wait  
to do a climb)

2) NEVER climb unless conditions are good. (No climbing during rain,  
or if it is too cold or windy -- even if it means I have to wait to do  
a climb)

3) ALWAYS stay clipped into the tower 100% of the time. (I climb with  
my positioning lanyard around the tower, plus my fall arrest is  
connected. While I am moving my fall arrest, I have another short  
lanyard that I clip in -- slow, but very safe)

Compared to some of my peers who free-climb to height and belt in, I'm  
a wimp. But, I'm a safe wimp.

Bill Coleman, AA4LR, PP-ASEL        Mail: aa4lr at arrl.net
Quote: "Not within a thousand years will man ever fly!"
             -- Wilbur Wright, 1901

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