[TowerTalk] Harness/Safety Belt Inspection

Kenneth R. Goodwin, Jr. krgoodwin at comcast.net
Fri Jul 17 14:22:30 PDT 2009

Today's ARRL Letter had a note on the death of W8KKK when his safety 
belt "parted at one of the seams and just let go."  I don't know the 
details of the inspection process in the commercial world but I do 
remember that on the TV program World's Toughest Fixes - 2000' tower, 
the involved parties were very concerned over the equipment 
inspection process conducted at the start of the job.  All of my 
safety gear has piles of inspection tags on it which I find 
bothersome but have left in place for reasons that I don't fully 
understand. (The xyl is the only inspector on my job and her stance 
is for me not to climb the tower at all.)

In the mountain climbing business, professional guides take the 
position that if a climbing harness is more than 5 years old, they 
immediately throw it away even if it has never been used.  That 
happened to me once in the Himalayas but I am not sure how rigorous I 
can be with the full body harness and associated safety equipment I 
use for climbing my tower.  I always have two levels of clip-in 
redundancy when on the tower but if the body harness were to let go, 
I would bet it is a single point failure.  There are three levels of 
connections on a full body harness (on the legs, on the waist and 
across the chest) but if for example the waist connection broke, I 
can visualize how one could easily 'come out' of the harness.  Why 
amateurs still use a safety belt with only one level of clip-in 
redundancy is a far bigger problem.  I suspect this is the root cause 
of the W8KKK accident.

I have often wondered how an amateur like me could get his equipment 
inspected in addition to having a structural professional inspect my 
Rohn SSV tower.  This latest accident begs the question, one that I 
have put off for too long.

Ken, K5RG

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