Hazard Assessments

Who needs an RF Hazard Assessment?

FCC licensees, building managers, site managers, construction companies, anyone who has people exposed to Radio Frequency Emissions.

An RF hazard assessment at an antenna site is very involved and requires the person performing the assessment to be trained, competent, and qualified to perform the assessment. The assessor must have some basic knowledge of the site prior to showing up on the site so that the proper equipment is taken to the site.

Some equipment may have a limited frequency range, while some may be very directional. Most RF probes are for use at communication sites are field dependent as well. At sites with transmitters below 300 MHz both the magnetic and the electric field must be measured due to the fact that either one could be dominant. In addition the site must be assessed for induced and contact current hazards. The best equipment on the market today can have as much as 4 db of error. These items can in some cases be addressed and mitigated with proper training. Some of the other equipment could have as much as 30 db of error in complicated environments. As discussed earlier a personal protection monitor can be used for a limited hazard assessment. Prior to this being done the site must go through an extensive hazard assessment with the proper measurement equipment that will show actual RF levels at the site.

The following equipment is what RSI will normally use to perform an RF assessment:

There are several reasons to perform hazard assessments at telecommunications sites. The basic one is to ensure safe conditions for employees or the general public who may be at the site. Another reason would be to have the correct information to be used for training or zoning type meetings. And still another is to insure compliance with regulations. Compliance with regulations may not always be as easy as it sounds. Being compliant with FCC exposure criteria may not mean that a site is compliant with OSHA and vice versa. The assessor must be familiar with the regulations as well as the intent and interpretations of the regulations.

  • Calibrated RF Meter
  • Calibrated E-Field Probe
  • Calibrated H-Field Probe
  • Calibrated Personal Protection Monitor
  • 2 Meter “Story Pole”
  • Digital Camera
  • Film Camera
  • Sling Psychrometer
  • GPS
  • Tape measures

At a telecommunications site there could be numerous hazards such as RF exposure, falls, chemicals, biological, confined space etc. An assessment of these hazards must include reviewing the potential for harm to employees from all hazards that exist at an assessed site. Taking RF readings at a site is only one step in the process of performing a comprehensive hazard assessment. If a firm performs RF assessments but does not mention anything about propane leaking from an outside tank into the equipment room, a comprehensive hazard assessment is not being performed. The RF levels may well be within the ranges specified by the FCC but the propane leak still creates a significant hazard to employees or anyone else who may be at the site. RF has the ability to induce current in conductive objects and creating arcing or spark-gap hazards, thus creating an ignition source for the propane gas and could result in explosion and/or fire. This is but one example of a hazard that could be found at a telecommunications site.

In addition to all of the items mentioned above, many clients need to know what their percentage of responsibility is. A simple hazard assessment may not show this and additional procedures must be taken to break down these percentages.

A hazard assessment done correctly can also help to identify exposures from off-site emitters as well. This could be from an RF source or from a chemical. A proper assessment can also lead to correct documentation of the site, who is there, at what level, with what type of equipment etc. For site managers this can lead to increased revenue or at least corrected documentation of the site. The assessment should also include what type of signage is at the site and where it is located.

Finally the assessment must be repeatable. The methods and procedures must be able to stand the scrutiny of a zoning board or city council as well as the possible scrutiny of a legal representative. RSI uses industry standard procedures for environmental assessments, which have been able to stand the test of time.

For additional information and a custom quote, call RSI at (888) 830-5648 or (620) 825-4600 today !