Is Tower Climbing Dangerous?

April 3, 2020 Tom Clark | Comments Off

Telecommunication towers are tall structures that can reach up to 2,000 feet in height. They are essential components of the modern communication system and must function efficiently at all times. Line and cable works are responsible for telecommunication tower maintenance. These workers scale a tower, physically inspect it, examine all delicate telecommunication equipment at the top, and carry out repairs if needed. This endeavor is very risky, and it causes hundreds of fatalities every year.

Being a telecommunication tower rigger is one of the most dangerous jobs in Northern America. However, local authorities have taken notice and are actively finding ways to improve safety standards.

Why Is Tower Climbing Dangerous?

Tower climbing is dangerous for several reasons and requires careful execution. Here’s a look at why it is so risky:

  • Danger of Falling – There’s always a risk of falling when climbing tall structures like telecommunication towers. While these structures are designed to help climbers scale them quickly, there’s still a risk of losing your footing.
  • Radio Frequencies – Radiation from telecommunication antennas can easily burn your skin and cause serious injuries. Exposure to active antennas can also cause temporary sterility and cataract. A telecommunication tower rigger should only work on these components when they are switched off to avoid injuries.
  • Exposure to Live Wires – Wires connected to telecommunication towers carry a lot of electricity. People can lose a finger or burn their arms just by brushing against an open live wire. It is essential to take the right precautions and avoid open electrical wires completely.
  • Bees – Bees like to live on towers because they are relatively undisturbed there. Unfortunately, workers must move past buzzing colonies or disrupt them to carry out repairs, which can be very risky.
  • Heavy Objects – People on the ground aren’t entirely safe either. Objects like wrenches, screwdrivers, or hammers dropping from around 1,000 to 2,000 feet can hit with devastating force. Even hard hats can’t withstand this force, which leads to severe injuries.

As you can see, working as a telecommunication tower rigger isn’t easy or safe. However, proper safety procedures can reduce the risk.

Safety Standards and Training


While tower climbing is a dangerous job, it is necessary for the maintenance of our modern telecommunications network. Fortunately, government organizations and telecommunication authorities have established a strong work safety standard. Lineworkers receive comprehensive training on how to climb these structures safely, how to deal with powerful antennas, and other such instructions.

Aside from training, line workers also receive high-quality safety equipment and rigging. Rigging ensures they don’t fall to their death, keeping workers anchored to the tower if they slip. Most antennas are shut down during repairs or installations to avoid radio frequency burns. Technicians are trained to observe proper precautions while working with active antennas for testing.

All telecommunication repair services involve a full team of technicians. A telecommunication tower rigger climbs the structure carefully for repairs or maintenance. A few technicians stay on the ground to monitor everything and repair ground components. Every team has a dedicated safety expert on-site, offering guidance, and keeping an eye on work conditions. They will shut down an operation if the conditions are too risky.  

Reputable companies don’t take workers’ safety for granted. They provide frequent refresher courses, conduct unplanned site inspections, and calculate the safety risk for every product in advance to make sure their workers are unharmed.

While accidents do still happen, the industry has made great strides over the past few years. Modern workers have more support from companies, which has brought down injury and death rates considerably.

If a tower owner wants to repair or maintain their installation, they should hire a trustworthy third-party company that has strong safety standards in place. This ensures no telecommunication tower rigger is injured on site.