Recent grad makes towering achievement

Wallace “Wally” Reardon ’10 recently received a national award for a tower climber safety project he began in college and continued this summer with Upstate Medical University’s Occupational Health Clinical Center.

Wallace “Wally” Reardon ’10, who worked for years climbing communications towers, has been honored for his work in climber safety.

Wallace “Wally” Reardon ’10, who worked for years climbing communications towers, has been honored for his work in climber safety.

Climbing communications towers is grueling, dangerous work in all kinds of wind and weather, said Reardon, who climbed towers hundreds of feet high for 13 years. 

“Some of the equipment we hauled up the towers was big, bulky lighting units that often weighed 50 to 60 pounds,” Reardon said. “We would climb up the tower, (with that) hanging beneath us hooked to our belts.”

After witnessing a colleague’s catastrophic injury, Reardon set out gathering stories and data from climbers and managers, working with grieving families and, as a SUNY Oswego senior in 2009-10, completing a tower climbers safety project under Lisa Glidden, assistant professor of political science.

Now he has received a national award for that project, which has become the Workers at Heights Health and Safety Initiative. Reardon accepted the 2010 Tony Mazzocchi Award for grassroots health and safety activism in November at the annual conference of the American Public Health Association in Denver.

He and Patricia Rector, director of
outreach and education for Upstate’s OHCC, also co-presented a paper on the worker-focused approach Reardon has applied to climber safety.

Rector said her organization has applied to the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration for long-term funding to employ their talented intern, with the vision of taking his program national.

Reardon appeared this July in Washington, D.C., as an invited safety and victim advocate at a national conference of the United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, an activist group for families of workers who have died in industrial accidents.

— Jeff Rea ’71

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