Video of radio tower free climber is erroneous, misleading and dangerous

I saw this video clip sometime last week and I remember thinking “This cannot possibly be right!”

In the video clip which purports to “instruct” on procedures for climbing communication towers, the tower technicians narrate a free climb (with no fall protection) of a radio tower with video being provided via a helmet cam. At one point, the climber, talking about the fact that he is free climbing, says “…it’s easier, faster and most tower workers climb this way. Free climbing is more dangerous, of course, but OSHA rules do allow for it.”

Not so says Jim Coleman, the chairman of the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE), “I’m unaware of any guidance by OSHA that allows for free climbing as an acceptable method of accessing elevated work,”

Within a couple of days of the posting of the video, after a number of calls and reports, the video which was posted on the On Line Engineer’s web site, it was removed. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point-of-view, the nature of the internet being what it is, the video keeps popping up, primarily on you tube.

It is impossible to see how many people have seen it because it keeps getting posted and then removed but one posting on Yahoo registered 750,000 viewers while another on You Tube registered 100,000. It is probably safe to say that several million people have viewed it by now.

While OSHA and NATE mandate 100% tie off, the video seems to portray tower climbers as “a breed apart” with a daredevil attitude.

With that attitude, however, they may soon become an extinct breed.