Never ride the line no matter who tells you to!

Discussion in 'Incident and Near Miss Discussions' started by Jason Beduhn, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. Jason Beduhn

    Jason Beduhn Friend of the Community

    We had just mounted the booms on a 280' self support. At that time we were doing a very unsafe practice at a former company I used to work for. It was getting dark and my job Foreman rode up on the winch line. He stoped at my elevation, 250', and told me to hurry hanging the stiff arms he was going up to re-rig for the morning of running the lines. That's exactly what he did. The wind was gusting up to 30 MPH, he got to the block, tied off and called for slack on the ground. He took the block off the tower and and switched it to a different leg. He did this without changing the position of the heal block to save time. So the down line was going across the face of the tower. He came back down to 250' and told me to hop in the line by getting in the choker under him. He was riding the mollyhogan. I reluctantly agreed when I was in the line we called for a cable down. I knew something was wrong at that point. I felt the cable rubbing bad. I looked up at him asked what was going on he said it was fine. What he did not realize was when he called for the slack this allowed the down line to wrap around the tower to a site below us. After decending about another 10' - "SNAP" - we fell rapidly. I was grabbing at every peice of steel I could. When I finaly grabbed on, my foreman was in my lap. He grabbed onto the tower and I struck down a few feet and lanyard off. About that time the winch line made it thru the top block and came down whipping down and taking a piece of my ear with it. Then the jerk of the line took my foreman down again the only thing saving him was my lanyard on the tower and us being connected by a choker. He got himself back on the tower. we were aprox. 50' from the tower base.

    So many things could have taken us down all the way. Only a few saved our lives. My advice to anyone after this experience. Don't ride the line! If you are pressured, say you would rather climb down. Saving a few minutes almost cost my life; definitely not worth it. I was only a year in the business and I trusted my foreman knew what he was doing.
  2. James Fulmer

    James Fulmer Friend of the Community

    Wow, thanks for sharing that. I had a bad feeling when my husband told me he was planning on doing this, but had no info to back up my feelings. I am happy to hear this, and I hope he NEVER ever does this.
  3. Brad Kilgour

    Brad Kilgour Friend of the Community

    This was a terrible situation, to be sure, but it is unfair to recommend never riding the line. There are many things in the Tower Construction Industry that can be fatal; falls from height, electrocution, even being crushed.

    All of these potential hazards can be minimized and even eliminated through careful job planning that includes a detailed hazard analysis during the design phase, daily safety meetings to outline the overall job hazards expected, and field level hazard assessments (FLHA) that detail specific hazards that occur during specific portions of the job.

    Proper planning would have eliminated the situation that occurred. Each member of the team should feel confident to stop any part of the job if they feel that something isn't right. In Canada, that right has been legislated from the Government in the HRSDC "Workers Right to Refuse".

    All jobs have the potential to be unsafe. Riding the line is no different, although the consequences from making an error are high.
    Marina P likes this.
  4. Bossman

    Bossman Friend of the Community

    I agree with Brad Kilgour. I have been in the industry for a long while, and have heard of many accidents, fatal and otherwise. I have almost never heard of a death due to riding the winch line ( note I said Winch Line, not rope!) I only know personally of one injury and one death while riding the line, and neither one was caused by failure of the winch or line, rather by mistakes made by operator or the person rigging the tower. when you have a competent crew, and good equipment, I feel that riding the line is as safe or safer than climbing, especially when I am hearing stories about faulty safety climbs!
  5. 100% Tied Off

    100% Tied Off Industry Observer

    I could not agree more Bossman!
    In my 11 + years in the tower industry I have operated 3 different types of Winches/Hoists. 2 were Tulsa worm gear style and the other was a hydradyne. 2 were truck mounted and one was trailer mounted I have lifted men on a line that was rigged through a gin pole and also blocks rigged to the tower. And lifted uncountable tons of tower and equipment. Proper planning, set up, constant inspection and maintenance is required. Every detail needs to be thought out, implemented and then rechecked throughout the project.
    Since OSHA just changed the rules recently and some companies may be getting ready to do this here are a few tips.
    1. Whenever possible place your hoist operator in a position with the sun, to his back, this will increase his visibility. If you can’t place him this way, provide some sort of movable sun visor like an umbrella. I had 2 gator clips, with a swivel between them, one attached to my visor on my hard hat, the other holding a piece of card board. Worked great for me. It is crucial that an operator be able to see his load, and catch hand signals from people either on the tower or on the load line, it is a great back up plan to radio communications. And most of the time a good operator will catch the hand signal before a man gets to his radio.
    2. Place your tag or trolley line at a 90 degree angle from your operator’s position. This gives him Maximum vision in regards to how close the load is to the tower.
    3. Place your hoist when possible a minimum of 70 feet from the tower, as level as possible. AIM the two sides of the hoist drum so the tower is in the middle this is called the fleet angle it will aid in your cable spooling on the drum correctly. Pay close attention to the line on the drum when it gets close to the side of the drum. It can climb on top of it self and build and then fall over. This causes a huge spike in dynamic force throughout the hoist, cable, rigging, tower, and load. THIS WILL GET YOUR ATTENTION. Bad wraps I have had a few.
    4. Place your heal block down low, and at the center of gravity, in relation to the tower. Provide enough choker length to fend off the cable from rubbing on the tower. Avoid placing your heal block in such a way that it pulls on the tower and causes the tower to be twisted by the pulling force of the hoist. (Very important on guy towers).
    5. Place a competent rigger on the tower and who has shown outstanding detail to safety.
    6. Choose your operator carefully. Get him certified. He will have people’s lives in his hands.
    7. Maintain all the equipment to the upmost of standards grease it, oil it, inspect it, and document, all the rigging and equipment used in hoisting operations.
    8. Before every lift inspect your load line and see that it is clear on the pull side of the top block and the load side of the top block.
    This whole Process can be much safer than climbing. It just has to be done right.
    When I read what happen I am wondering why the new guy was feeling the cable grind but not the foremen. And a good operator on a truck mounted hoist should have spotted a problem in his cable tension and felt the same rubbing. Everyone has a right to throw out a hand and call a stop and do a line check at any point in the lift Forman or no foremen " it’s your life. "
  6. Bossman

    Bossman Friend of the Community

    I did have a surprise last week. While rigging a tower for some mod work, We found a burnt spot in the winch line about 15' from the end. After a lot of pondering, I decided it had to be from a lightning strike while in a storm in South Dakota 2 months ago. Had a temp light hanging from the ball overnight. That is the only time that end of the line would be exposed at the top of the pole when I am not on site! Lesson here is after a storm, inspect your line, especially the part that was going over the roosterhead.
    100% Tied Off likes this.
  7. Richard Bell

    Richard Bell Friend of the Community

    Jasen, I can certainly understand your positon on riding the line, but riding the line is much safer than climbing. Your accident most certainly should have been avoided. The operator should have been paying closer attention and seeing the problem.

    NATE anf OSHA got it wrong when they passed the rule prohibiting riding the line. I believe there were some statistics that got into the decisionmaking that were rope failures, and statistics on rope and steel winch lines are on the opposite ends of the spectrum. They eventually got it right twelve years later, but how many people died that were not on the end of a winch line during this period. We will never know, but we can learn from this experience. We do not need people that are not journeymen tower hands having the final say on how we do our work safely.
  8. Richard Bell

    Richard Bell Friend of the Community

  9. Richard Bell

    Richard Bell Friend of the Community

    Bossman, your step by step descriptoin is exactly what I recommend. I have hired experienced operators that would set the hoist straight off the center of the tower face they were hoisting from. Not only do they not have a good view of how far out their load is, but you have your load and jump line running straight through the centerline of where your hook-on men have to work. Another issue I am terribly picky about is securing the hoist to prevent it from being pulled into the tower. Guys will argue that the hoist is much heavier than any load they are picking, and it's a valid argument. I just go ahead and make them secure it and be pissed off for thirty minutes or so. I have never had anyone hurt when a hoist or truck was moved, but it's just better to be safe than sorry.

Share This Page