Tower Talk Climbing gear

Tower Talk (forum-example)

Here's an example of pro-active thinking:

From: John Lloyd [mailto:lloyd at] Sent: Friday, February 06, 2004 3:03 PM To: towertalk at Subject: [TowerTalk] Certification to climb towers?

I went to a club meeting last night where the speaker was in the business of Tower and Antenna Installation. He said that the OSHA rules have changed over that past few years and that everyone who climbs towers needs to be certified to climb and and must use the proper body harness climbing belts and locking belt clips.

He also said that if there is an accident, that OSHA WILL come and inspect the Tower accident. If the climber is not certified then the insurance companies won't pay any claims.

I would like to know if someone could confirm this and let me know what one needs to go through to get certified to climb towers? I've only been climbing towers for 37 years now and yes I have a body harness climbing belt. I climb towers to repair and maintain my ham radio antennas. I did not know that everyone needs to be certified to climb.

Can someone direct me to some information on the web about certifications for tower climbers and the OSHA requirements?

Thanks, John, K7JL

Answered: Ken Anderson longrange2 at Fri Feb 6 20:23:22 EST 2004

As a safety consultant (in the insurance industry) I can tell you there are no OSHA certifications for anything. OSHA has training requirements imbedded in many of their standards and it is the employer's responsibility to make sure that they train their employees where required by OSHA. When the employer (or a consultant like me) provides safety training it is documented and the trainees are then considered "certified" for that training by OSHA, but OSHA does not actually certify anyone. I am "authorized" by OSHA (through specific training and experience)to provide OSHA construction safety outreach programs (10 and 30 hour) and the attendees get a card that they have received the training. There is no "certification".

In the case of fall protection the employer must have a written fall protection plan and must train any employees who must work at heights and use fall protection. OSHA does indeed require the use of a full body harness in place of a belt. There are harnesses available that will still allow hooking in with "D" rings at the hips (to hold the wearer in place on a tower or a rebar cage or whatever) but there is still a "D" ring in the middle of the back of the harness where the actual fall protection shock absorbing lanyard must be secured. The hook in at the hips is considered a "positioning device" that will hold the wearer in place while performing the work but it is not fall protection. And do not be fooled by equipment that claims to be "OSHA Certified" because OSHA does not certify any equipment. There is equipment that complies with the OSHA requirements but it is not certified by OSHA. If you are buying fall protection equipment get it from a reputable company like DBI/SALA, Miller, MSA, Rose etc. It may cost more than the ham fest find, but I consider it cheap life insurance. Please don't use just a belt. There are too many critical injuries to internal organs and even deaths from hanging in a belt awaiting rescue. A full harness spreads the force of a fall over stronger structures in the body. And remember that fall protection harnesses and lanyards are only personal protective equipment (PPE). It does not prevent the fall, it just prevents injury when a fall occurs. Myself, I prefer engineering controls that remove the fall hazard entirely like a tower that tilts over to allow work from the ground or a Hazer, etc. Then I don't have to rely on PPE.

OSHA has no jurisdiction over private parties and they will not investigate a fatality that does not involve an employee killed in the course of their employment. As a private party there is no requirement that you be certified to climb your tower. Whether a claim is paid or not depends on State work comp law which can vary greatly from State to State. Some States have statutes that allow the insurance carrier to limit work comp payments if an employee was not following established safety rules or was under the influence when the accident occurred. I don't see any impact on whether an insurance company would pay a life insurance claim or private disability to someone killed or injured working on their own equipment. Remember the speaker was talking from the perspective of an employer and they are required to provide the training.

If you have someone come work on your tower, you as a private party are under no requirement to make sure they are trained. There have been many cases where a subcontractor has sued a homeowner because they were injured working for the homeowner but these suits usually go nowhere. A private citizen cannot be required to have knowledge of OSHA standards that govern the subcontractor's work. If I were actually hiring someone to work on a tower for me I would make sure they have liability insurance and request a copy of their certificate of insurance proving coverage. That way if they damaged the tower, antennas or your home during the work you could file claim against their coverage. If they are a company with more employees than just them self (like a sole proprietor) I would require a certificate of insurance proving they have work comp coverage. This is common practice with contractors, they are used to being asked for a certificate of insurance. If they are just the local ham offering to do some tower work for you this will not be available and if they are injured they (or their survivors) could try to file suit against you. Not sure it would go far. They are assuming a certain amount of risk by climbing the tower. Just make sure they know what they are doing and that they have appropriate fall protection equipment.

Here is a link with some good information about fall protection:

Sorry for the long post, but I figured I would offer what help I could in answering your question.

Ken Anderson, N0VZ Certified Safey Professional (CSP) Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH)