Personnel Accidents

Discussion in 'Safety - General Safety Issues' started by James Kester, Apr 24, 2008.

  1. James Kester

    James Kester Friend of the Community

    I'm trying to figure out what you people are doing out there?
    On this site, I read of more & more accidents & fatalities.
    Maybe I missed something during my 25 years. It was called accidents!
    NADA-NONE Ever!!! Not a scratch -0- ZERO Never Happened!
    Thousands & Thousands of Man Hours. Thousands of Facility Installations.
    Awful Winds, Rain, Heat, Millions of Pounds of Steel, Antennas, Radio
    Racks, Cranes, Gin Poles, Heavy Lifting, Complex Rigging.

    NO ACCIDENTS EVER!

    What's Up With You Guys???????
  2. Robert Lucker

    Robert Lucker Friend of the Community

    James and Chas,

    Been climbing towers since 92'. One of the things I have noticed is that the "experienced climbers" now are about the same age I was when I was a greenhorn.

    The guys that trained me were usually 30-40 and had at least 5 years climbing. They didn't have cards back then but the company knew how to keep you safe. You worked the ground until you knew all the rigging, knots and components.

    Then they "let me" up and I went from 8/hr to 9/hr.You worked around seasoned climbers constantly and gradually, they allowed you to do certain tasks on your own (ie, "jump? the pole, rig the tower, dress-in cable etc.) and they always watched what I was doing ("MacGuver you need to re-rig your lanyard", "MacGuyver you need to be on the other face now", "MacGuyver if you drop another tool I'll tie a string on all of your tools," etc.

    Yea, we rode the line, wore old leather belts, no hard hats, not enough sleep, too much beer the night before, free-walked across the horizontals, hung upside down on the t-arms etc., but we also spent nights in the hotel practicing knots, played cards for push-ups, practiced connector assembly, made jumpers and mostly talked shop.

    I?ve seen miracles (guy falls from 200', his lanyard raps the guy wire and he slides into the anchor) and I've seen trajedies (Sugarland Texas Broadcast towers). These companies now move the experienced guys to foreman too soon. As soon as that happens, that guy doesn't climb any more. He works the capstan or winch, talks with the customer, talks on the phone, dresses the bottom etc.

    There isn't a "lead climber" on these crews. A guy that makes a few bucks more than the other climbers but trains new guys and watches every move. Now, while I'm glad we have these new fancy "harnesses with a D ring on the back", radios to talk to the ground, and "safety lines" on the towers and classes to take and certs to put in your wallets, it doesn't matter if the industry has been diluted because of the huge growth.

    We need to re-structure the crews. Keep some of the old hands on the tower, make newbies work the ground until they know the rigging and knots. I'm just tired of hearing about a "21 year olds who fell". If I was on the tower with him, he would be alive today.
  3. Chas  Wagner

    Chas Wagner Industry Observer

    James,
    Like yourself, I have been around this industry for quite some time. I've seen the days of knocking ice off of the tower to find it and seeing the second sun rise from the same tower with no breaks. Also, like you, I too have noticed more and more publication of the "fatal incidents". One thing that is important to consider is that the mid 90s brought the "PCS Explosion". The number of companies performing the work grew at an alarming rate. Consider that when you got into the business you most likely joined into a crew as the only "Gumby" or "Green hand" in it. The level of experience in your crew was most likely a crew total of 30 plus years.

    The down side of seeing so many "upstart" companies during the mid 90's is that the experience level of owners and managers was far short of those guys who brought hands like you and me into the game. With that being said, it becomes obvious that we had less skilled people training unskilled people. Sadly, there is a reality that anyone with six months to a year?s experience and some financial backing started a tower service and then those people became responsible for training new guys with no experience. BAD SCENARIO!! I do realize too that many of these "upsart" groups have done well to become some of the safer groups out there and that not all of them fit into "my special category"; however, if 10 percent of 500 new companies do, you still have the additional companies I refer to as "lowering the bar".

    There is also another important factor to the amount of incidents we see in publication. Do a bit of research and see how many companies [and hands] were performing the work 25 years ago and compare to the company and hand count of today. By example if there were 1000 hands in the business 25 years ago and 1% got injured or killed, compare that to today's 10,000 at a 1% injury or death rate. [I am aware these are not accurate #'s but for examples sake...]

    One missing link from what I see is what level of training have these recent persons been exposed to and what is the practical experience of those teaching them? My condolences to those of you who have lost friends and loved ones [like myself] in this industry, but let us all remember there are both accidents and oversights causing these reportings. I surely am not the one to say what the level of training or skill was for each of our fellow workers we've lost lately, but I have been to numerous sites finding the combined years experience for a crew to be less than 5 years. The basic scope of work has changed little but the individuals teaching and performing the work have changed dramatically.

    The wealth of training that is currently available is great, but it does not replace practical experience. We as members of this community - owners, managers, hands and even the customers have an obligation to make sure the right skill and experience is present on the job site to complete a job safely.

    It's more than just cards in our pockets and everyone knowing where the folder is that has the maps to the hospital. I for one feel blessed to have been taught by individuals with a lot of time in the industry, guys who knew what to teach me beyond the rating on my safety hooks as read from a 32 page "paid to pass" test.

    Are there cards in the pockets of the guys we're counting? Who taught them the trade? Did they land on the card, and did it save them?

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