The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

When RFR Protection Runs Amok

Because the public at large is often frightened by scaremongers regarding the effects of RF radiation, broadcasters need to be aware of those areas at transmission sites where RF radiation can be an issue.

The OSHA and the FCC have, in recent years, focused more attention on the measurement and signage for public protection. But, then some members of the public have their approach. 

At one time, tower crews regularly would climb through operating FM antennas or merely jump onto an operating AM stick.

They reasoned that if you could not see the RF, it could not hurt you. Some would eschew footwear while working on steel.


Today, with much more science behind us, we are much more aware of radio waves’ interaction with the human body.

So now the routine, especially at shared sites, is checking with RF exposure meters and using RF suits, coordinated power reductions – or just plain going off the air during antenna installations and repairs, unless an auxiliary antenna and/or site can be brought online.

With all this attention and the required posting of warning signs, even non-broadcasters are getting increasingly cautious about transmitting antennas.

Of course, as with any precaution, things can get a bit out of hand.

A Very Cautious CONTRACTOR

We were told this story about an older air conditioning man who, along with his new helper, came out to a broadcast site a couple of years ago to repair an A/C unit.
On the way up to the site the veteran mechanic instructed his younger helper to be careful – and not to be touching anything because of “all the RF that was flying around on the site.” It seemed like he was suggesting a decent precaution – at least he was instructing his assistant to err on the side of safety.

Nevertheless, when he got out of the truck it was apparent that his level of concern was more than usual.

Cautious contractor at a transmission site wearing a non-OSHA approved protector

The questions is: is it OSHA approved?


The engineer who took this picture realized the mechanic was genuinely scared about standing next to the tower.

As you can see clearly, he was wearing his homemade tin foil “family jewel protector.”

Talk about priceless!

The fellow’s name and location are redacted to protect the … err … protected.



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