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VIDEO: How to Climb a 1,768-Foot Radio Tower, or How NOT to Climb

Tue January 15 2013 9:15 am
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If you are afraid of heights, don’t even think about clicking the play button for this video, which shows two workers climbing to the top of a 1,768-foot tower — 38 feet taller than Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). The video is reported by experts to be inaccurate (see below)

Don’t believe everything you watch on YouTube. The “Stairway to Heaven” video, reportedly launched by, states that free climbing is an accepted method of ascending, working and descending on a broadcast and telecommunication tower. Tower erecting associations, such as the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) publicly denounced the video, stating that free climbing is not accepted by OSHA, and that there were many other inaccuracies in the video.

Ranging from 2003 to early 2012, tower climbing has ranked among the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Almost 100 climbers have been killed on the job, 50 of them on cell sites. The fatality rate is about 10 times that of general construction.

According to the video — and this might be true — there is no quick way down, even if a thunderstorm arrives in the area. Spikey steel flower help to dissipate electrical discharge or lightning that might hit the tower in a thunderstorm.

At 1,768 feet, you can see 55 miles to the horizon.

According to ProPublica — an independent investigative journalism organization — OSHA has made little effort to connect the deaths of tower workers to specific carriers. OSHA has never taken on the four major carriers – Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. There have been almost two dozen fatalities on jobs done for their networks — ProPublica reports there have been 15 fatalities on AT&T jobs since 2003. Outsourcing — especially to foreign workers — is apparently the method of getting away responsibility for safe work conditions. The third parties apparently allowed financial pressure and deadlines to lead to fatal shortcuts.

The radio tower on Boeger Drive, just south of Buffalo Grove High School is 379 feet tall on a ground elevation of 709 feet (overal height 1145 feet). The tower in the video has a height of 1,768 feet on an unknown elevation.

The Boeger Drive tower in Arlington Heights is reported to be owned by American Towers, Inc. of Schaumburg. According to their website, American Tower Corporation is a leading provider of wireless and broadcast towers worldwide. They also operate a tower on top of the John Hancock Center with a reported height of 1,455 feet.

The Warsaw radio mast was the world’s tallest structure until its collapse on August, 8 1991. It is the second tallest land-based structure ever built, being surpassed as tallest by the Burj Khalifa, completed in 2010.

See also …
ProPublica Built for a Simpler Era, OSHA Struggles When Tower Climbers Die

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