Speight, Tower Climber Trainer: Things aren’t the way they should be

By Ben Horvath, contributing reporter

Tower climbing is, by its very nature, a dangerous profession. The stats bear this out. Between 2003 and 2014, there were 119 tower climbing fatalities, according to OSHA. For AxcessRescue founder and owner Glenn Speight, this number is far too high.

“The perception of the tower industry is that it is the most dangerous job in America,” says Speight. “But it doesn’t have to be, it doesn’t have to be at all.”

Speight’s company, AxcessRescue, a safety training company based in Oakland, New Jersey, specializes in training workers who work at heights. His clients include not only tower climbers, but also workers from any occupation that would requires working at heights.

Concerning the tower industry, Speight says training standards for tower climbers are still below where they should be. His criticism centers on the duration of training, its quality, and its lack of hands-on exercises.

“The training that these [training companies] were providing was extremely poor, it wasn’t factually-based, it wasn’t hands-on, it was a ton of classroom stuff, just a lot of material that actual workers [wouldn’t use],” Speight says, describing other climber training companies’ techniques.

In response to this observation of poor quality of training, Speight founded AxcessRescue in 2010. Speight’s company training regiment includes rope access, confined space, fall protection, and controlled descent training.

“Our company was founded on the ideal of actually doing something about this [poor training],” Speight says. “Our intent was to build training facilities that were designed for tower workers and people working at height.”

The company’s training centers around Speight’s hands-on philosophy: placing the trainers in situations that replicate what they will experience in actual climbing situations.

“[Our facility] is the type of environment that is controlled and gives them the opportunity for good training,” Speight says. “We’re not just having folks standing around at the bottom of the tower, listening to one instructor doing all the work, then everyone goes home and ‘here’s your certificate,’” Speight says, contrasting AxcessRescue’s training quality to others.

One of the messages Speight engrains in AxcessRescue’s training techniques is articulating the “why” to tower climbers. Instead of abstract material and loads of impersonal information, according to Speight, his training program helps workers to gain a fuller understanding of how safety equipment operates and why these safety standards are taught.

“Our route is to help people understand how to use the equipment that’s out on the market and help them understand why they are doing what they are doing, so they can adapt to any environment that they’ll be in.”

Speight has over 20 years in technical rescue, fall protection, structure climbing, and rope access. His company is an official NATE member training company.