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Improper Tower Work Places Lives At Risk

A self supporting tower in Michigan required an antenna and radio upgrade for a carrier, co-located with others on the tower. At Electric Conduit Construction we pride ourselves on doing work that is high quality with no call-backs. We want all of our employees to come home, every night, safe and healthy, and we want our customers to know that we care about their assets. 

 Left photo shows clamp tightened against peg bracket. Right photo shows close up view. 

Towers are touched by many hands throughout their lives. This tower was no exception. Our crews are trained to look things over closely before trusting their lives to the structure. In this case, at the top of the tower, at the upper boom clamp in one sector, our climber noticed that the clamp was tightened agains a peg bracket. The clamp was clearly not installed properly. Our tower modification project required that a climber or two would have to crawl out on the boom to remove the old antenna/radios and then hoist and fasten new ones in place. Adding up the weight, the three radios would equal 750 lbs. the climbers, with gear would add about 400 lbs. Now move this mass three feet out to the end of the boom and you have approximately 3,450 foot pounds bearing on an improperly secured clamp. 

Fortunately our climbers spotted the clamp problem before they attempted to climb out on the boom. The work was stopped, our foreman climbed the tower to assess the problem and come up with a solution. We ultimately recommended three options to the carrier:

  1. Use a crane to support the entire boom. Loosen the clamp, reposition it and tighten.
  2. Use rigging and come-a-longs to secure the boom in place. Loosen the clamp, reposition and tighten.
  3. Use secondary clamps to hold the boom. Loosen the bad clamp, reposition it and tighten. 

Crane taking weight of boom

Our first recommendation, which we felt was the best choice, was approved by the carrier. Choice number one was the safest for the carrier, for the co-located equipment and for the workers. 

We measured in advance to determine the new clamp location. Made photographs for the carrier's engineering team to look at. Obtained the appropriate approvals and moved forward with the repair.

Clamp properly installed and tightened in position below peg bracket

We classify this incident as a near miss. Thanks to the vigilance of our crews we were able to spot the problem, recommend a solution and correct it. No one got hurt and the tower is safer for the next crew. Good employees are hard to find. We appreciate their dilligence, vigliance and professionalism. As to our customers, their assets are a top priority for us. We will leave it better than when we found it.

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