Passing it on ! Sharing my experience !

Discussion in 'Incident and Near Miss Discussions' started by 100% Tied Off, Nov 15, 2014.

  1. 100% Tied Off

    100% Tied Off Industry Observer

    I remember erecting a tower up in the U.P. of Michigan, it was July hotter than heck; we were erecting a 38"x 470' LA Rouge FM broadcast tower, about 12 miles off the lake. This thing was face guyed, strong little tower. The guy wire schedule was every 70'. We had just made the 350'mark, raised the pole so we did not have to do it in the morning, and pulled the six guy wires up and attached to the pull offs.

    Just about the time the men hit the ground a storm started brewing right on top of us. It was a bad one, the wind was strong and the lightning was wicked. I had my men get in the trucks and we went to the end of the drive way and watched. We saw the tower take two strikes in less than 30 minutes. I kept hoping that it would clear up enough for us to get the guy wire cables into grips. It never did, it just continued with the lightning, rain and wind. I looked at the prints and then out at the tower with 70' of cantilever and our pole poking another 20' above that and would think to myself my god this is a strong little tower with 5/8 double guys all the way up, I said a couple prayers at the site before we left it that way for the night. I did not sleep a wink that night; I was so worried about that tower coming down.

    The next morning we had a moderate rain with light winds and the weather called for more thunderstorms to roll in around 9:00 am. I decided we would run out to the sight and get the cables into the grips and go for initial tension before we went to breakfast.

    Well when we arrived on site it was an unimaginable muddy mess. We loaded the Polaris 6x6 with the rigging and headed to the first anchor point and sunk all six wheels right to the axles. We unloaded the rigging and got it set for that anchor and then went for the cables. We were like a 4 man Clydesdale team of horses, we pulled the cables, fought for footing and sank over our boots in the mud. We got that anchor point into the grips. We then fired up the hoist, removed the load ball, set a block at the base, and pulled the load line out to the 6x6 and pulled it free. We drove to the next two anchor and did it all over again. We arrived on site at 5:45 am and I was now looking threw my transit and it was 10:20 am.

    We started to put some tension into the cables and lightning went shooting across the sky, I got on the radio and told the men to pick up the other transit and hand tools and head for the truck.

    We went to a little place just down the road 5 or 6 miles away for breakfast, I had to motion to the waitress threw the window to come to the door, when she arrived I asked if she had a hose out back that we could use to get cleaned up. She said, head around back. We walked into a nice little dry food storage area that had a hose and a drain; we stripped off the $100.00 per man browning rain suites that I bought a year earlier, after we had hosed each other off. We walked into the restaurant by way of the kitchen in our sock feet. Man that food smelled great! We ordered our food and it came out hot and perfect, I kind of chuckled to myself as I looked around the table, and every man sitting there had stained hands from the dye coming out of the gloves that we had been wearing.

    We had arrived there just before 11:00 am and sat and watched it lightning and rain until 3:30 pm. The owners had closed the place at 2:00 pm like they did every day. They sat and drank coffee and listened to our war stories about tower erecting, service and maintenance. They were just wonderful people. They even brought supper out to the site one day.

    When the storms finely stopped a couple days later we then went out to the site and stacked more steel, we then ran into wind, WIND, It was Windy for a half a week, we only had a 10' section left to top it out, the owner of the station was getting impatient, he kept trying to push me to just do it with the winds high.

    Well it was around noon one day and the winds dropped. We jumped to attention and set that section in no time at all. We then brought our gin pole down the tower and laid it out on the ground at the base. The winds started back up shortly after that.
    As we worked to pull the pole apart the owner of the station came out of the building and said that Big Blue Crashed down in Milwaukee and killed a couple people about an hour ago. I felt myself just boil, I looked at him and said that is why we do not set steel in high winds People get killed. He looked at me and said:" I am glad you waited". We packed up and went home.

    My whole point in telling this story is that we all have choices to make doing what we do. My rule of thumb is to make the choice that douse not involve taking an out of the ordinary chance. I, to this day swear we must have built that site on an old Indian burial ground.

    I didn't make much money on the project but I came home with the pot of gold, my men. And we still talk about the site in the U.P.It’s kind of funny how the sites that were so difficult to complete and overcome the hardships, seem to be the ones that shine in our memories. Must be that pride thing.

    Work safe!

    Share your Stories and pass on your experience!
  2. 100% Tied Off

    100% Tied Off Industry Observer

    Water tower welding close call.

    I had to weld up a corral on a water tower top at one point. The water tower was a Fluted Column type. To get the Welder as close as possible we backed the tower hoist into the Garage at the base, rigged a block to the bottom of the steel tank with a steel choker and hoisted the welder up. We then ran the welding leads through the access tube and out the top.
    After completing the welding and lowering the welder back to the ground, it was discovered that the 3/8 stainless steel Aircraft cable was almost burned through, just 6 or 8 little strands were still intact. This area of the cable also had signs of high heat but clean heat. The stainless steel cable had a rainbow of colors moving outward from the damaged area about 2 inches in each direction. A chill of fear ran through my body. After being puzzled a bit, I realized the welder was hanging just 6 feet from the bottom of the tank supported by the 3/8 stainless steel cable that was running through a Block supported by a steel choker and shackle. This was the path of least resistance for the ground needed for the welding operation. The welder chose this path over the ground lead that was strung through the access tube.
    I chose 2 actions to prevent this from happening again.
    1. I hoist the welder up and park it on synthetic sling. With another sling as a backup.
    2. I made a special ground cable that has a very short lead and I attach it to the tank.
    Had the 3/8 stainless cable failed, the welder would have dropped and the leads running up the tube would have went with it. Possibly taking people down the tube . It still, gives me chills, thinking about it.
  3. Kevin Reski

    Kevin Reski Frequent Poster

    Another welding safety problem that can hurt people is the problem I may have invented & hope nobody ever replicates:
    About 30 years ago, I was welding tower flanges together using our gasoline powered stick arc welder every 20' on a 400' tall AM tower which we just finished erecting with a gin pole. Since the tower was still rigged with steel cable I simply belted into the headache ball on top of the roaring welding machine which the hoist op raised me progressively to each 20' flange for me to weld together. The guy on the tag line pulled me & the roaring welder away from the tower after I completed each section weld & they raised me another 20' to the next set of flanges. After about an hour I was over 300' up & welding & I felt the pain of searing heat near my boot. The fallout sparks from my welding process had ignited the gasoline fumes which emitted from the breather pin hole on top of the plastic gas cap & the gas cap was already half melted away. Before I could yell holy macaroni, my tag line guy decided to quick pull me & the roaring engine/gas tank inferno away from the tower. Now I couldn't escape to the tower & away from the burning gas tank. The hoist operator zoomed me to the ground as fast as the hoist would spool out wire. In the meantime I probably invented several new dance moves as I tried to move me & my appendages side to side & up & down to keep away from the flames while hooked to the top of the welder/engine. The gas tank mercifully never did explode, but the grass prairie fire that ensued from our burning welder kind of put my personal hot foot problem on the back burner for the next long hour.
    Kevin Reski, Pres. Great Plains Towers
  4. Vizsla

    Vizsla Friend of the Community

    Two great lessons learned. Thanks guys for sharing your stories. It's nice to read positive posts that bring to light scenarios that we might have never envisioned, as you folks didn't.

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