Dangers of working at height near radio frequency (RF) antennas are the focus for the International Powered Access Federation at an upcoming conference.
IPAF representatives will be at the MATS Conference in Coventry on 27 September to promote new safety guidance created to educate workers on the risks of RF radiation and the signs and symptoms of exposure.
Organised by the Mast & Tower Safety Group, the conference promotes all aspects of safety and best practice when working at height and near broadcast and communications antennas.
IPAF’s Head of Safety & Technical Brian Parker said: “Antennas are often situated on masts, towers, rooftops, the sides of buildings and street furniture, and the height of installation generally prevents radiation exposure to members of the public.
“However, powered-access platform users can easily enter RF fields and become at risk once they start to ascend.
“This risk is increased by the fact that antennas are often hidden or disguised to blend into their surroundings, making identification difficult.
“High doses of RF radiation can be fatal, which is why it is so important to be aware of the risks and trained in how to stay safe.”
This month IPAF published a new training resource, ‘Radio Frequency (RF) risks to MEWP operators and platform occupants’. The leaflet was developed to accompany a ‘toolbox talk’ training resource focused on safety near radio antennas.
Toolbox talks are short, structured discussion sessions created by IPAF to help teams to explore risks and safety issues specific to their work sites. Sessions are designed to be held regularly to reinforce training and gain worker buy-in.
Radio waves – found in a wide range of technology including microwave ovens, radar, medical equipment and telecommunications – present a health risk because they cause molecules to vibrate, which generates heat.
Symptoms of exposure include extensive sweating, increased heart rate, nausea and headaches, as well as burns and tissue breakdown in severe cases.
Anyone who works on or near rooftops, sides of buildings or other locations where antennas are located could be in danger of exposure.
Additional risks associated with working near antennas include electric shocks and interruptions to work platform electrical systems.
Attending the MATS Conference is an excellent opportunity for IPAF to spread the word about these new training resources and help to reduce injuries caused by exposure to radio waves.
The new training resource ‘Radio Frequency (RF) risks to MEWP operators and platform occupants’ is available in English on the IPAF website.