Introduction

Tower safety could be collectively summed up as "manual handling at height in the presence of radiofrequency radiation." Safety professionals are for the most part very well versed in manual handling and height safety but have little or no knowledge of the very modern and prevalent hazard of radiofrequency radiation. As such this paper will place a very strong emphasis on this very modern contemporary hazard and its associated risks and controls on cell towers.

Radiofrequency radiation is an almost purely occupational hazard in the sense that prior to the 1880's it wasn't being harnessed. The prevalence of this hazard is underestimated because everyone whom uses a mobile phone would be exposed to it at some level. Furthermore mobile phone networks are forever expanding for improved quality of reception and to meet consumer demands. In order for mobile phone networks to operate then towers are required to mount the antennas responsible for radiofrequency transmission that carry the communications data.

Under certain circumstances radiofrequency radiation can be very hazardous and because of its space on the electromagnetic spectrum it is invisible. In Australia manual handling at height is deemed by law as high risk work and as such the additional hazard of radiofrequency radiation amplifies the risks of tower work. The Australian climate and native fauna can also play a role in increasing risks on towers. Radiofrequency Radiation Radiofrequency radiation is non-ionizing hence it does not have the energy to break molecular bonds; as a result its effect upon the body is thermal. The body is composed of 70% water and the water molecule has a slight potential across it which alternates with the polarity of the radiofrequency signal. At 100kHz then heating of the body can start where alternating movements can occur at 100,000 cycles per second. The radiofrequency space on the electromagnetic spectrum ranges between 3kHz to 300GHz, so at the upper part of the spectrum that involves movement of water molecules at 300 thousand million cycles per second. Hence heat is generated due to the friction and transferred to body tissue.

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