Tower Climbing Footwear

Tower Climbing FootwearOut of all the equipment tower climbers need to do their job; harnesses, ropes, helmets, carabineers, etc… it can be easy to discount the feet. Even in regular jobs, the feet are overlooked until the end of the day when they are aching, dry, and cracked.

Beyond simple comfort, the right footwear provides grip, prevents the development of fungi such as athlete’s foot, can prevent foot odor, and will provide ankle support to prevent injuries to the ankle, knees, and back.
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Choosing Tower Climbing Gloves

Choosing Tower Climbing GlovesA good and resilient pair of work gloves can make all the difference in the work day. There are literally thousands of different types of gloves, each with their own specific purposes. When choosing a pair for tower climbing, they have to be a balance between durability and climbing functionality.

What you need to know when Choosing Tower Climbing Gloves

Any time that hands may be exposed to punctures, burns, lacerations, HAZMAT exposure, electricity, or extreme temperatures, OSHA requires that gloves be worn. Beyond that, the type of gloves are largely up to the industries they are used in.
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Helmet Safety

tower climbing helmet safetyThe helmet is arguably the most important piece of climbing equipment. Many may be asking… “If I fall from 1000 feet, what is a helmet going to do?” But, as any experienced climber will tell you, falling is not the only risk. Helmets protect from debris, especially on windy days, they protect from hitting head on the metal, and from tools that could fall from the person working above you. It broken wrist will hurt, but a skull fracture is infinitely more dangerous and could lead to a fatal fall.
There are two types of helmets. The first is the suspension helmet. These are the type of helmets seen on a construction site. The are plastic with a fitted webbing inside. They are very durable, but are heavy compared to the other type of helmet. In industries that deal with building and demolishing, these helmets are more commonly used.
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Fall Protection Safety Harness

Fall Protection Safety HarnessEven if you work for a company that provides all the safety gear needed, many climbers like to have gear that is just theirs. When picking out a harness, there are several things to look for. This guide will give you the important things to look for.

Start by asking yourself some questions. How experienced are you? How much padding do you need? What is the main reason for getting your own harness? Once these are answered, the search can begin. In the tower climbing industry, the full body harness, also called a rescue harness, should be used instead of the seated type.

Padding is pretty standard in harnesses these days. If you have a stockier body type, are new to climbing, or have areas where many harnesses “dig in,” then consider getting extra padding, especially around those “sensitive areas.”
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Hidden Communication Jobs

hidden communications jobsWhen people think of the communication industry, and the jobs within it, they usually think of broadcasters, cell phone providers, and cameramen and women. But, there are so many jobs hidden below the surface that make every facet of communication possible. These are the unseen, behind the scene, and little known about career fields that are an integral part of making sure the word remains at our finger tips.

Radio Frequency (RF) engineer- The work of an RF engineer is found within every area of communications that works with radio waves. This field includes cell phones, Wi-Fi, radios, two-way radios and more. There are two specialties for the RF engineer, the first is the generation of signals that go to and from transmission systems to communication electronics. The second specialty is providing the coverage and controlling its dispersion with transmission systems. The must have a deep knowledge of physics, electronics, mathematics, and wave propagation.
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Tower Dawg Skills

When people hear the term tower climber, their minds fill with an image of thrill seekers, dangling 1,500 feet in the air, and they get a very glamorous image. There are many other qualities besides not having a fear of heights that makes a good tower climber.

The average tower is 200′-1500′ in the air. This goes beyond a fear of heights. The whole world is different that high up in the air. There has to be an ability to handle the pressure and the potential danger. It is not an amazing view that has these men (and women) up there. They are there to do a job that nobody else can or is willing to do.
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Tower Climber Hall of Shame

tower-climber-hall-of-shameIn 2010, a video was circulating that showed a “tower dawg” climbing without the use of any safety gear. This video was intended to show a first hand perspective of what a day as a tower climber is like. This video caused an outrage and panic, and has since been removed.

Free climbing is very dangerous, even for the most experienced climbers. Wireless Estimator has since created a “Wall of Shame,” which displays videos of those climbing without proper gear. This wall is designed to discourage the infamous free-climb. In 2006, eighteen people died from incidents on towers because of improper safety gear.

Toby Wheale of Glendale, AZ died in 2005 when he was dismantling a tower that was no longer being utilized in Illinois. The greatest insult to his family and friends was not in his death, but in the $750 fine that his employer was forced to pay. It is often said that the price of a human life can not be calculated, but if it could, it seems an insult that $750 would be the number.
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The Early Years of Tower Climbing

The Early Years of Tower ClimbingWhile tower climbing is still considered one of the most dangerous jobs, not just in the US but worldwide, it has come a long way in the past 60, 40, 20 and 10 years. The emphasis on safety in recent years has become a priority that was not around when the first towers were being climbed.

Free climbing, while it is still practiced by experienced climbers, was more commonly practiced in the early years of tower dogs. The importance of proper harnesses, knots, boots, and helmets was not part of general safety curriculum. It was a new field and, like when any new career field comes into the world, trial and error is the surest way to learn. Unfortunately for the field of tower climbing, deaths had to be the sacrifice made for progress. As technological advancement explodes, there are constantly being developed newer, more reliable, and safer methods to get the job done.

Communications began as a few wealthy households possessing telephones. As TV, phones and later Wi-Fi, internet and satellite communications began to dominate and change the world, more towers needed to be created to keep up with the demand. This means that more people to service, build and maintain these towers were needed. This also means that there has been growth in the variety of communications devices a tower climber needs to be familiar with.

When one or two towers supplied lines to a community, it didn’t take an army of people to keep them running. Today, it is seen that tower climbers work long shifts for weeks at a time. They often travel from city to city, tower to tower, just to keep the internet at the fingertips of millions and text messages travelling at unfathomable rates.

The size of towers has increased as well. The bigger a city gets, the more obstacles that can interfere with the signal, especially of satellites. The placement of towers on top of buildings helps alleviate this problem. This means however, that a 500-foot tower may reside on top of a 20 story building. This was not a practice utilized when tower climbing got its start.

There are now protocols in place that have to do with line of sight. Little gets in the way of the signal coming from or going to a 700 foot tower, but the smaller ones have to be placed so that trees, traffic lights, and other signals do not disrupt the patterns being sent or received.

Tower climbing, at its start, was completely for men. While the vast majority of tower climbers are still men, women are beginning to brave this field as well. One of the first female tower climbers began her career in the 1970’s. This was a time when gender roles were just beginning to change.

One important thing seen in the towers climbing career path is that while other jobs still pay women a certain percent per dollar to what they pay men, this dichotomy is not present with tower dogs. It seems that all the advancements have boosted the tower climbing industry ahead of the curve in many ways.

Tower Climber Crew Chief – Foreman

Each “Tower Dog” is responsible for their safety and the safety of their crewmates, it’s a combination of training and common sense. Crew chiefs are responsible for overseeing every member of their crew, for surveillance of the site, and for all subsequent paperwork that is needed. Being a crew chief is a huge responsibility and should not be undertaken lightly.

Crew chiefs perform a lot of the same day-to-day tasks as those who work below them. They take on more responsibilities and must be right up in the action, so to speak, to oversee operations.
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From climbing rocks to climbing towers

With a field boasting as many opportunities as tower climbing, it comes as a surprise that more women are not engaging in active employment within the field. Those that are, assume the role of trail-blazers in a predominately male industry. Out of an approximately 9,000 tower climbers in the USA, only 15 were female. The occupation gets negative representation for being physically demanding and dangerous, but it is only as dangerous as one makes it.

One of these trail blazers is Lauren James, a climber from North Carolina. Her career in tower climbing, which has since become passion, began with her love of rock climbing. This “tower dog,” a pet name climbers use for one another, climbs 500 vertical feet, for up to a months straight, while hauling 30 pounds of gear. She was intrigued by welding as a kid and become interested enough to study welding in college. Some of her family had been in the tower climbing industry and they encouraged her when James decided she wanted to pursue the career. Soon after she was applying for jobs in North Carolina.
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