THE BOATRIGHT REPORT- An Open Back Road Guide to The American Experience

I’m installing the anchoring system for the Vertical Lifeline that was on the Ray Braswell (near Clinton, MS) – GASES (near Greenville, MS), 230 kV line for a bridge project in Washington Country, Mississippi. I was using this as a Prototype and demonstration to our company upper management and safety department that we met their due date of delivering a workable Fall Protect System within 18- months

By: Charles W. Boatright, President of THE GREAT QATSPY® Company

Confidence of a Secure Vertical Lifeline– for Linemen on steel/concrete poles with step bolts Manufactured TUF-TUG® & Wood Poles climbing belt by Buckingham®. The Climbing belt we developed was called Super Squeeze, very user FRIENDLY!

Two (2) years before I retired from Entergy, as a grid engineer, we had a lineman that fell from a steel structure and sustained severe injuries. I was asked to lead a fall protection team to help develop measures that could be used on existing and new structures that could prevent future falls.

Management gave us the next 18-months to have prototypes ready for field use. One reason for such a tight timeline was that I was retiring in 24- months. That was an ambitious timeline that we were given for fall protection for wooden, steel, and concrete structures for the entire 4- State system (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas). I was already working with a committee on a replacement of the current utility belt for wooden poles for our linemen to use that would be similar to free climbing of the old days, but provide 100% Fall Protection.

The Three Criteria for Fall Protection Safety Equipment

First whatever we developed had to fit three (3) criteria- ONE Be convenient and easy to be used by our linemen in the field, TWO Be able to retrofit current infrastructures that we had on the system, and THREE Provide 100% fall protection to the user under OSHA Specs. I can attest that if any safety equipment isn’t convenient, linemen will not use it correctly or not use it at all, and I for one, I can’t blame them. I have been in the field long enough to realize linemen want something that makes their job easier and not more difficult to perform, in other words user friendly.


Fall Protect for Wood Poles

I was already working for the last five (5) years, where we were trying to transition from wooden structures to either steel or concrete structures. Wood poles in 2015, when I retired made up the lion share of transmission structures, to a tone of ~68- percent. For wood poles, we worked with Buckingham® on a utility belt to developed, a belt called Super Squeeze®, that our team took the lead on developing it for Buckingham to manufacture. This Super Squeeze® gave linemen the convenience that they had with free climbing in the old days, but with providing 100% fall protection. That addressed our wood poles requirement. Now for steel and concrete structures with step bolts, just a little more challenging.

Fall Protection for Steel and Concrete Poles

Using the Super Squeeze® on concrete or steel poles with step bolts would be cumbersome and practically unusable to use with step bolts spaced 16-inches apart up the pole. The linemen would have to constantly make transitions around step bolts and other obstructions trying to climb. Most falls occur when the person is making a transition. That would place a burden on linemen that would take their mind off their work and climbing and would also be a distraction with loss of confidence. Lack of confidence makes for unsafe working conditions.


I had the fortune of working with TUF-TUG®, Joey Deuer president of TUF-TUG® from Ohio, to help us to develop a vertical lifeline that made climbing significantly more convenient with 100% fall protection that could arrest a fall within specified distance of 54-inches and wouldn’t exceed 900 lbs. of arresting load on the person.

This is the shock absorber for the vertical lifeline that limits the energy transfer to the linemen to less than 900 Lbs.

This is the anchor point for the lifeline that is located 12 foot off the ground that I was installing in the feature image above.

This is the intermediate catch lock that are located every 25 foot up the pole that the lineman can simply knock out to remove from the neoprene catch when going up. Then simply reinsert the lifeline on the way back down.

This is a traveling Arrester for 3/8-inch cable

The Traveling Arrester acts like a seat belt in your vehicle that travels freely until a jerking action is applied, then is locks the arrester in place.

We developed a 3/8- inch stainless steel cable lifeline that had a shock absorber at the top of the structure, shown above, and a traveling arrester that made climbing steel/concrete structures from 30 ft up to 400 feet attainable and safe providing 100% fall protection. We were able to deliver both systems and a horizontal lifeline for H-Frame structures, shown below with me on the X-arm, within 14- months. In the photograph below, I’m field testing the horizontal lifeline during the last month that I worked in June 23rd, of 2015 before I retired to start my own business of apparel with health and fitness. I’m must be doing something right, because I’m 66 years old shown with our model, Heather, that works with us.

I the one in the middle field testing the horizontal lifeline for linemen.

In the feature photograph above, I’m installing a prototype vertical lifeline anchor point on a 130- foot steel pole near Greenville, Mississippi for testing and demonstration to our upper management and Safety Department for approval in March or 2015. I didn’t want to retire and not be able to contribute something to our linemen that I always enjoyed working alongside of and fulfilling my obligations as chairman of the Fall Protection Committee, before I retired.


My Advice to Young Engineers to have a Successful Career

Young engineers coming into the field there is one piece of valuable advice that I would like to give you– That is to work closely with your shop and field personnel, even if they are direct and to the point, because they are the end users that have to use, build, or manufacture what you’re working on designing, just remember to make their job a little easier.

These field personnel will have invaluable experience and information to help you in your work and you will develop friendships with the best that you will remember for your entire life. But be ready for scrutinizing and criticism with some colorful feedback, but that will make you more of a successful engineer or business manager.

And anytime that you can get out into the field, DO SO! That where the other 80% of your education will come form working with experience field personnel. Never confuse knowledge with experience; they aren’t the same thing! Remember successes will give you confidence; but failures will give you experience.


Vertical Lifeline

The vertical lifeline that we developed for our lineman’s safety allowed them to live and enjoy their lives with their family and friends without severe injuries. We on the committee wanted to have a system that would not fail them; but also wouldn’t be cumbersome to them in their work. Something like a comfortable pair of your favorite blue jeans are to you.

We kept reminding the linemen that you will incur minor injuries in case of a fall like bruises and cracked ribs that you will be able to walk away from without serious injuries or being a fatality. That was our objective in providing the vertical lifeline and climbing belt. Remember one thing about the safety manuals, they are written in someone’s else blood.

Our Vertical Lifeline in Our Owe Life


In life, there is a vertical lifeline that we all have access to in order for us to be successful, secure, and have confidence with the peace of mind. We just need to connect to it and have faith in it. Like the vertical lifeline on our structures, you might incur tough times but you will have the peace of mind that you will endure the trials of life, we have someone that will not let you fall but He will securer you in His hand for life ever after.

We have confidence that our lifeline in life will sustain us through trials and challenges.      

Hebrews 6:19 It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God.

Isaiah 46:4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

I was called back in off retirement during 2020 after Hurricane Laura and Delta hit southwest Louisiana to help out with transmission line restoration efforts. That was 5- years after I retired at age 57. Below I’m shown in the staging yard at age 62.