Lost interest in this subject?????

Discussion in 'Climbing Towers' started by Chuck Norris, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. Chuck Norris

    Chuck Norris Friend of the Community

    It seems again Safety is a major topic only after fatalities. I have read a lot of these threads and many others and we as an industry are never on the same page.

    To me the big picture is why are these fatalities happening, was the company not abiding by OSHA rules and regulations? Was the employee in a hurry or fatigued? Was this particular job needed to be done yesterday? There are so many factors that can and have contributed to these deaths.

    Another step in the chain is not going to fix safety, it starts with those who do this for a living and being enforceful of safety. Of all the years in this industry this is always a shooting match. My opinion is that you as climbers, managers, directors and owners etc... need to display the passion you write about towards others.

    Just an example, you are on a bid walk and see a safety thing that you know is an issue, bring it up. I have been on so many bid walks and those that are walking these jobs are clueless.

    Their main focus is money and how they can win the job. Me, I bring up everything I see then when I get back to the office I worry about cost. What I am getting at is this, we the few who have the passion for safety are fighting against those who have the money or those who only care about the money.

    So I asked that you use that passion for safety on others who do not. Over the last 10 years that I have been training and teaching and I have certain rules that I strictly adhere too. Here are a few:

    1. New employees are not allowed foot on any structure until they have been given a 2 day class and climbing session with ME, even if they have experience from another company. (this may be months)
    2. I do not take on jobs that are out of the realm of my crews' abilities.
    3. I do not hesitate to anyone or any company to point out that they are unsafe. (Yes, sometimes they get hostile/lippy with me but at least now they have it in their heads.)
  2. Dave Swainger

    Dave Swainger Industry Observer

    Over a thousand people have voted in the poll as of late and the results are overwhelmingly supportive of licensing. Although I realize it's an unscientific poll, it's obvious that the industry would consider licensing.

    However ---- there seems to be a lack of interest and leadership on this subject from those people that have the resources to make a difference.

    From what I have read, this issue came to life when Mr. Wilcox wrote an article about Gritz Tower's idea of licensing as a way to save lives and reduce injuries.

    Then it got a life of its own and everybody was talking about it. Now it seems to have just become another topic that had its fifteen minutes of fame.

    NATE didn't respond, although it's their prerogative not to, even though it appears that the industry was asking them to give it some thought.

    What I find interesting is that the two biggest supporters of this initiative - Mr. Gritz and Mr. Wilcox, haven't followed up on any of the excellent comments and questions in this forum...a forum they were basically responsible for starting.

    "I think there is something more important than believing: Action! The world is full of dreamers. There aren't enough who will move ahead and take concrete steps to actualize their vision."
    - W. Clement Stone
  3. Winton Wilcox

    Winton Wilcox Friend of the Community


    I appreciate your input. I have delayed any response for two reasons. The first is that I had no idea what my password was to log in to this site. The whole world of passwords is beyond my management.

    The second reason I have resisted any response is that as the author I felt I had made my case and I have been intense in watching the industry reaction. Unfortunately I am not surprised. The dialogue, both on this site and other Internet chatter has been interesting but essentially non-productive. Many are confused regarding the suggestion. The concept is not to increase government interference, nor to unduly burden those who get the job done.

    I also find the most discouraging element to be the complete disdain the power players have shown. That NATE, and the major General Contractors have refrained from even paying notice is just further evidence that it is not the professionalism of our industry nor the safety of the workers that motivates them.

    ComTrain has offered to host a meeting to pursue this idea during or pre/post the annual NATE convention. By host it was our belief that should there be sincere interest we could provide a meeting space. I do believe that our prejudice should be tempered by locating someone else to moderate the gathering.

    At this point we have had no believable interest by phone, email, forums or other sources on the part of the industry.

    For nearly 14 years we have listened to experienced tower climbers decry the value of certification. The oft repeated obvious statement that "certification doesn't mean the guy can do anything". Here is some food for thought. We have nearly 30,000 graduates of ComTrain Safety training programs, we only have about 400 graduates of our skill training programs? Maybe the industry is just to entrenched with the idea that they know it all or they really are supporting the idea that tower workers are low skill, low pay employees. Maybe the idea that some knowledge standards, some demonstrated skills and some accountability are not needed.

  4. clark smith

    clark smith Friend of the Community

    I have been in the business of climbing and erecting towers for 10 years, and learning most of my trade under the supervision of a man who had more than 40 years in the business, and being fortunate enough to get most of this experience and education while working on a 2-man crew.

    I spent a great deal of time on towers in west Texas that were well over the 1000' mark. I learned competence and safety in KNOWING MY OWN LIMITS AND ABILITIES. I have learned also from working for many companies all across the states, both large and small, some with a high degree of safety training, and others only wanting a warm body who could climb.

    The only thing that made a crew safe was the competence of those who were on the crew, and the skills of and knowledge of those who led the crews.

    I retired from this business once for 3 years to start a family, and am now in the process of getting back in. When I left, ComTrain was just starting to be required by the major players, and while I am always an advocate of safety, I am also one of those who in the interest of getting the job done have done many things that were and are considered quite risky, and a bit dangerous.

    When you work only with 2 men and on towers that were built long before safety climbs, and, where free climbing was, and is the norm. I had to learn a great deal about what I, as the person climbing, felt was safe to my abilities, and what was safe, and or needed for the type of tower I was on.

    I have worked with a good many men who have gone through the ComTrain class, and have learned that while it is a good thing for those who were new in the business to know and learn, it doesn't, and cant, take the place of a well trained and EXPERIENCED crew leader, and a competent top hand who is not afraid to say no. Neither thing is taught in any class, it is learned under the watchful eyes of experienced hands.

    Instead of a climbing "license" that in no way is a sign of knowledge or competence, why do we not like many industries, allow and put in an apprenticeship system?

    I have enough first hand knowledge and experience to know that ComTrain is not enough. It takes a couple of years of learning, and most of all, knowing, what the individual is able to do and feel safe with. There is no set structure for towers, and since like people, they are all different, and they must all be approached differently.

    I have in the past, as both a top hand and as a crew leader, much to the dismay of both, tower owners and companies. I have refused to go up certain towers and have even refused to allow my men to climb under what I deemed as risky above what I would allow, even though one or more of my younger hands were more than willing to go up. Most all had gone through ComTrain, while I haven't.

    I will, at my expense as with all of my other training, go through on MY dime, it is VERY, expensive to take these classes. But like college, it is a bit of knowledge that is always welcome. It is as I have discovered, very expensive for one to get on one?s own. So let's let us old guys who have been in the game more than 10 years work off experience, and develop an apprenticeship that would last at the minimum of one year.

    With the rookie working with as many different crews as their respective companies can allow, this will give them a chance to gain as much knowledge as they can, and give the smaller companies a chance to see who is going to be able to work in this business, before spending a large amount of money on training that would be wasted by training a person who will not be able to handle the work, and the stresses that go with it

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