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Scared Of Heights?

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By Author: Benchmark
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A viral video has spread across the Internet, detailing a normal day in the life for a radio tower maintenance worker. Ironically, it's towers like this that have allowed that particular video, and countless others, to be shared across the planet. We wouldn't be able to enjoy the widely-available access to the Internet, television, phone service and music that we have today without satellite towers, radio towers and cell phone towers. While most people wouldn't give a radio tower or mobile cell phone tower a glance, others who know how these pieces of equipment work are fascinated by them. Click here to find out about the different types of towers commercially available, and read on to learn more about one of the most dangerous jobs in America.

Just Another Day at the Office

Let's revisit that video. Over nearly eight minutes of cringe-inducing, albeit educational, terror for acrophobes, two workers climb to the top of an impossibly tall, thin guided radio tower to perform necessary light bulb maintenance to keep nearby air traffic safe. Just how tall can a radio tower ...
... be? This particular tower stands a breathtaking 1,768 feet high – taller than the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and even the Sears Tower.

After a relatively brief elevator ride, the workers climb the rest of the way, carrying a heavy tool bag. Once the men exit the tower's framework and begin climbing spindly rungs attached to the thin pole at the top, things get terrifying – especially when the workers begin free-climbing without a safety tether, only hooking themselves to the pole now and then to take a brief break.

Falling isn’t the only hazard, as the video’s narrator explains. Maintenance workers also face danger from lightning strikes, and in fact, the topmost worker looks around at gathering storm clouds before continuing his ascent. High winds at that altitude also present the risk of swinging the first worker’s tool bag against him and unbalancing him, making a climbing partner necessary to keep the bag steady and to help him with handing off tools and providing supportive work.

The views are stunning, but you are only too aware that just one small mistake can be fatal.

OSHA Investigations

In fact, tower maintenance workers such as these men are said to have the nation’s most dangerous job. So many workers have been killed climbing towers that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has begun more closely examining the situations that led up to the accidents. The agency is also pressuring cell phone companies and subcontractors to raise safety standards and ensure that at least one person is on site to supervise safety while others are at work. This includes attaching safety gear to towers while climbing.

We can hope that future tower workers will stay safe while working on the structures that make our lives so much easier and more convenient. The next time you crane your neck to look at the top of a skyward-reaching radio or cell phone tower, be grateful for those who put their lives on the line to build this technology and keep it functional so the rest of us can be entertained and keep in touch with each other.

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