Worker Safety

an excerpt from An Electronic Silent Spring by Katie Singer

Worker safety

Routinely now, electrical workers and workers in other trades may be exposed to RF radiation from antennas without knowing that they are being exposed or how to protect themselves. In his September 11, 2013 Comment to the FCC about radiofrequency exposure limits and policies, Edwin D. Hill, International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) stated, “we believe that many of our members have been exposed to levels of RF radiation in excess of the FCC limits.

“When there is a hazard,” Mr. Hill further states, “the hazard creator has a duty to warn others against the hazard.” He suggests that telecom companies that are licensed to deploy transmitting antennas should be responsible for ensuring that IBEW members “know the unique physical boundaries at every work location so as not to exceed the referenced RF exposure limits.”

At present, telecom companies are not required to post signs that inform workers that an antenna (which may be disguised or in a chimney) is nearby.

A.M. Best Company estimates that 250,000 workers come into close contact with cellular antennas every year. It warns other insurers that at close range, cellular antennas act “essentially as open microwave ovens;” and that exposed workers’ health effects “can include eye damage, sterility and cognitive impairments.”1


1. “Emerging Technologies Pose Significant Risks with Possible Long-Tail Losses,” Best’s Briefing, February 14, 2013.

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