Broadcast and cell tower construction and maintenance workers have some of the most dangerous jobs. Not only because of the risk of falling from high heights, but also because of the high levels of radio frequency they’re exposed to.
Even though cell tower contractors are exposed to high levels on cell towers, radio frequency levels from FM radio and television antennas are significantly higher.
Whether you’re working on a cell tower, FM radio antenna or television antenna, here are the basic things all tower climbers should know about radio frequency waves.
Radio frequency is any of the electromagnetic wave frequencies that lie in the range extending from below 3 kilohertz to about 300 gigahertz and that include the frequencies used for communication signals (as for radio and television broadcasting and cellphone and satellite transmission) or radar signals. (Definition from Merriam-Webster.com)
The demand for broadcast and cell towers keeps rising, which means more and more towers are being built for broadcasting and communication. In an article by rcrwireless.com, Cisco estimates that mobile traffic in the United States will grow by seven times by 2019. The need to continually build, upgrade and maintain towers will continue to increase.
Tower climbers that maintain, upgrade and build these structures are exposed to radio frequency at high levels. Although the public is exposed to radio frequency, the level of exposure at ground level is far less than at antenna level.
Although some express concerns that the radio frequency from broadcast and cell towers may cause cancer, there is no study that confirms that.
One of the biggest arguments against the statement that cell towers and broadcast towers cause cancer is that the RF produced from these towers is non-ionizing radiation. This means it doesn’t carry enough energy to ionize atoms. Forms of radiation that are ionizing radiation and connected to cancer are from things such as x-rays and UV light.
For tower climbers it is important to always know the level of radio frequency waves you’re exposed to. There are several devices that measure the levels of radio frequency waves to ensure you’re working at safe levels at all times.
Tower power should always be reduced or turned off if possible while working. Even when the power is reduced, it is still recommended to have a radio frequency monitor on to make sure you’re always working at safe levels.
Wear protective clothing to help lower the amount of radio frequency your body is exposed to. Body suites, gloves and head protection should be worn while working on broadcast and cell towers.
With the increasing demand for broadcast and cell towers, the amount of radio frequency waves that tower climbers are exposed to will continue to increase. Taking proper precautions and using equipment such as monitors and protective clothing can help lower the levels you’re exposed to when working on broadcast and cell towers.