September 15, 2010

You think your job is tough?

Last week, we rocked and rolled you with a dramatic video of a cruise ship tossed in a storm, but for sheer fear factor, we think this video may top that one. Normally, we wouldn't post another video so soon after that one, but we think this one may not stay up for long!

Note: the video we had posted was removed but a copy has been posted here: Climbing Up The Tallest Antenna Tower 1,768 feet

Once we caught our breath after the gut-churning visceral reaction to the clip, we had two thoughts: Massive respect for the jobs that infrastructure workers do to keep our lights on, our computers running, and our phones working, and absolute horror at the "free climbing" concept. The narrator says that OSHA rules really allow for this, but that doesn't sound right. We'd be interested in comments from safety professionals.

Here's what we found from OSHA: "Tower climbing remains the most dangerous job in America. The majority of fatalities are the result of climbers not being tied off to a safe anchorage point at all times or relying upon faulty personal protection equipment. Many fatalities have occurred during the erection, retrofitting or dismantling of a tower. "Tie or Die!" has become synonymous with the requirement for 100 percent fall protection."




I have done a lot of things in my live.

A combat Marine
A Private Pilot
A Free Balloon Pilot
A Scuba Diver
A "Hot Mill" Worker
A Heavy Equipment Operator
and so on

When the guy started up the last 60 feet I turned off the video to keep from puking on my keyboard.

WOW. I don't know how these guys get their pants on in the morning.


If free-climbing is allowed by OSHA; why is the other climbers face blurred? He would not want to be identified or have his company ID'd either (that's why).

OSHA does not allow free-climbing EVER on towers. Special PPE has been designed to eliminate the need to free-climb. We have double lanyards with fall arrest to "crab walk" up the tower for example. Free-climbing has been banned since 1994. Sombody has been filling somebody with misinformation.

These climbers are putting themselves and other climbers at risk.

I have lost any remaining respect for OSHA. It is very wrong to allow this practice. The engineers who design the towers and the companies who build and maintain them can do better than this. The comment about the possible lightening strike highlighted the wide range of hazards of this job. I hope the video stays up and there is a call to action.


I'd love to see photos of how they erect towers like that one.

It brought back memories of this nearly 60 year old photo I shot of my high school buddy Roy, climbing a radio tower near Lake Tahoe, Nevada, just for the halibut.


We have been working on this issue since 2008 with the Tower Climber Protection Project (which is on Facebook and feel free to join us). We are working with injured climbers and families who have lost loved ones on the job in this industry where little to no injury data or statistics exist.

OSHA is completely undermanned to enforce the 100% Tie-off policy. Many companies fear that we are trying to turn their employees against them. We keep fighting nonetheless to give some control over safety back to the employee (who is almost always blamed for free-climbing incidents)

Intense competition for bids go to who can do these jobs the cheapest, not the safest. This means to speed up work (and feed the family, pay the bills, and keep the best paying job most of these men ever had in their life), they free-climb. I find this video highly accurate in the field. Thanks for taking notice Suzanne!

If you would like to learn more, email me at

If you scroll about halfway down this OSHA page you'll find that tower climbing is ranked as a most hazardous job:

The "owner" of that video pulled it back a few days after it was posted, but by then it had been snatched and posted on dozens of other websites. His explanation of why he pulled it is given here:


Here is what happened to this video feed. Someone was being intimidated here.


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This page contains a single entry by Julie Ferguson published on September 15, 2010 8:45 AM.

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