There could be numerous hazards at a telecommunications site; 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 the site.
There are several reasons to perform hazard assessments at telecommunications sites; first and foremost it is to ensure safe conditions for employees or the general public who may be at the site. It also assists in having the correct information to be used for training or zoning type meetings, as well as insuring 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.
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, 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. This could create an ignition source for the propane gas and result in explosion and/or fire. This is but one example of a hazard that could be found at a telecommunications site.
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. 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, city council, or legal representatives. RSI uses industry standard procedures for environmental assessments, which have been able to stand the test of time.
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