So I don’t know why this is the last topic of the ham license manual…seems rather anti-climactic since I have no intentions of ever climbing a tower. But here goes:

So at VHF and UHF, the higher the antenna, the greater the line-of-sight range over which contacts can be made. Noise from sources at ground level is reduced as well. At HF, the vertical angle at which the most power is radiated generally decreases with height above ground, so most antennas are mounted as high as is practical. Once beyond the capability of mast/pipe support (40ft or so), a steel or aluminum tower is the usual solution.

Even if you don’t put the tower up yourself, both climbers and ground crew should wear appropriate protective gear anytime work is underway. Each member should wear hard hats, goggles/safety glasses, and heavy duty gloves suitable for working with ropes.

If you’re the climber, use an approved climbing harness and work boots to protect the arches of your feet. Don’t use a lineman’s belt as they’re unsafe and no longer approved for tower work.

But before climbing/even starting work:

  • Inspect all tower guying and support hardware.
  • Repair or tighten as necessary before anyone goes up.
  • Crank-up towers must be fully nested and blocked, if necessary.
  • Never climb a crank up tower supported only by its support cable.
  • Double check all climbing belts and lanyards before climbing.
  • Make sure all clips and carabineers work smoothly without sticking open or closed.
  • Replace/discard frayed straps and slings.
  • Make sure all ropes and load bearing hardware are in good condition before placing them in service.
  • Use a gin pole (temporary mast to lift materials such as antennas or tower sections) so that you don’t have to hoist things directly.
  • Double check the latest weather repot, since you don’t want to get caught on the tower in a storm.
  • Avoid climbing alone whenever possible because it’s never safe.

So when everyone is on the ground, review the job in detail and agree on who gives instructions. If hand signals will be used, make sure everyone understands them. It helps to go through the steps and ensure that everyone knows the sequence and even things such as proper knots/rope- handling techniques.

During the job, keep chatter to a minimum. One member of the crew should always be watching the climbers. Stay clear of the tower base unless you need to be there because that’s’ where dropped objects are likely to land. Never remove your hard hat while work is proceeding on the tower. An object dropped from 60 feet will be traveling >40mph when it lands!