Tower Work: It’s Safer Than You Think

Editor’s note: In May, I wrote an editorial about the recent Missouri TV tower collapse, with the headline “The Most Dangerous Job in America.” TV Technology reader Mike Pappas of Parker, Colo. disagreed with my assertion with the following response:

Miles Pappas

Miles Pappas

Tower climbing isn’t “the most dangerous occupation in the U.S.” It’s not even close. Over the last six years major strides in tower climbing safety training and improved best practices by the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) have substantially reduced the number of accidents and deaths. The biggest change has been the adoption of 100 percent tie-off at all times.

On the 2016 BLS listing of civilian occupations with high fatal work injury rates, tower climbing doesn’t even make the list.

My 21-year-old son Miles is a newly NATE-certified tower climber. He is working with an experienced crew that has a spotless safety record on a 1,000-foot TV tower as part of the repack. I can tell you as a parent I am confident that the company and crew he is working with are adhering to all OSHA and NATE requirements and best practices. I know he is safe and will be starting his junior year at The Citadel in August where he is working on his Mechanical Engineering degree.

Tower work isn’t the most dangerous occupation it’s not even close.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.