(Disclaimer: This presentation does not advocate, endorse, guarantee, imply nor infer any person can safely climb utility poles based solely on reading its content. It is for informational purposes only.)
introduce this topic, I must offer some background as to what
qualifies me to put together this page and give an insight into
the art and skill of safe pole climbing:
I am not a veteran pole climber nor one who has many years of experience with it. I have some cursory knowledge about the subject and completed a hands-on course. The reason for taking the course was that I hired on as a telephone company service installer and the first part of indoctrination is to attend two weeks' worth of training for Safe Pole Climbing. Unfortunately, my tenure with the telephone company did not last very long. After I completed the initial training, I was offered another job that was more to my liking and I quit the phone company. I can say, however, I logged one entire day as a full-fledged telephone service installer. This occurred when I reported to the phone company yard and met my supervisor and spent that day riding along with a veteran installer.
I am relating this bit of background because I feel some sense of obligation to this particular telephone service provider. They spent a lot of money on my training and the accommodations were quite agreeable. It may seem odd to you, but I want to convey the following information as a public service - and perhaps someone else can gain from my experience. It may also prevent someone from choosing this field of endeavor and then realizing it is not for them. This is what occurred in my case. In fairness to myself, I think the phone company should have done a better task of screening prospective applicants and their fitting into that kind of workplace culture. But that is another matter entirely. Now, on to the subject . . .
The first prerequisite to pole climbing is procuring a good pair of pole climbing boots. The only absolutes about the boots are: the uppers be made of leather, have a steel shank, and be broken in to the point where you can wear them comfortably the entire day. You may be hearing about different brands of boots and the so-called preferred brand of linemen, but any decent boot that is at least ankle height will work satisfactorily. I suggest going to a military surplus store and checking into their line of NEW boots. Do not buy a pair of army boots, jump boots, jungle boots, boon dockers or other standard footwear used by the armed forces or metropolitan police departments; and definitely do not buy a used pair.
When you are shopping around, you may hear that a full-steel shank boot is preferred, but the standard half-shank is really more than adequate. The idea behind the steel shank is to provide a larger area for your body weight to rest on. Without the shank, all your body weight is concentrated on two one-inch wide gaff hooks, and that translates into massive pain on the soles of the feet. After you buy a decent pair, wear them as long as you can prior to the actual training. The boot leather is thicker and tougher than the leather on a pair of tennis shoes. Consequently, they require more time to thoroughly break in.
The second prerequisite is getting in good physical shape. This is really a no-brainer, but it can not be emphasized enough. Most of the physical work in pole climbing is done with the legs, so it makes sense a strong, healthy set of legs benefits you. I recommend doing squats - deep, heavy, full cycle squats. If you can gain access to a stair master-type exercise machine, that is excellent for conditioning the legs also.
Beyond this, you must consider the rest of your body as well. Although good, efficient pole climbing requires little upper-body strength, a general work-out routine can make all the difference in your success. I further recommend jogging, jumping jacks and stretching. Stretch with your knees locked and touch your toes! If you already can, work on placing your palms on the ground. Wear your boots and work clothes when you exercise too. You may look a little odd, but it will pay off big-time when you find yourself up the pole and in a precarious situation!
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[ Welcome to Page One! | 3-Point Rule | Hand, Charlie, Stroke! | The Safety Strap | Intermission | Maneuvering, Part 1 | Maneuvering, Part 2 | Summary | Contact ]
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Last Revision Date: February 12, 2011
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