RF Safety Training.com

RF Safety Applications


Important Questions

Points to Consider

Defining Requirements

It is human nature to want to solve problems. People who are concerned about RF safety will often first investigate the type of equipment that is available. But in many cases, information is needed much more than hardware. It is important to understand the risks of your situation and how to deal with it. In most cases, you need to determine whether there is a potential for any employees or contractors to be exposed to excessive levels of RF energy at any worksites. Determining this may require measurements, but these are often unnecessary.

Equipment needs should be determined by the situations that your organization faces, the background and availability of your personnel, and your objectives. Consider how you would answer the following questions:

  • Are all the potential hazards identified?

  • Are the sources of radiation fixed, such as the output of a radio or TV broadcast station?

  • Are site conditions constantly changing, such as on a rooftop with many different wireless service providers?

  • Is the primary concern over leaks from industrial process equipment?

  • Does the system use waveguide to conduct high levels of RF energy?

  • Do my personnel have electronics backgrounds?

  • Would my personnel be comfortable with and capable of making RF field level measurements? Do they have time to conduct field surveys?

  • Does my organization employ contractors to work in areas with significant RF field levels?

  • Do my personnel need to work in areas with RF field levels above the standards?

Based on the answers to the questions above, consider the following points:

  • RF survey instruments can provide an accurate assessment of field levels at a particular location at a particular time. They do not provide continuous monitoring.

  • A certain level of expertise and training is needed to use survey equipment properly.

    • Simply checking for leaks near industrial processing equipment requires limited training.

    • Conducting and documenting surveys at complex antenna sites requires knowledge of the equipment, its limitations, the propagation characteristics of the antenna systems, and concepts such as ground reflections and reradiating objects.

  • RF personal monitors, when used properly, provide continuous monitoring of conditions.

  • The training requirements for the proper use of RF personal monitors are far simpler than those for using survey equipment.

  • All personnel who use RF personal monitors should receive basic RF safety training.

  • RF personal monitors should not be used to make measurements! Some models are designed to be isotropic when the cap is removed. At most, this feature is useful for finding a leak. It should not be used to quantify field levels!

  • RF area monitors solve some problems better than survey instruments and personal monitors. The simpler area monitors function much like a smoke detector. They sound an alarm whenever the field strength increases above a predetermined threshold. The challenge in using these monitors is locating them so that they properly protect personnel under all conditions.

  • RF personal protective equipment (PPE) is available in the form of RF protective garments. Personal monitors can tell you where you cannot go or should not remain, but what if you need to work in an area with significant RF fields? RF protective garments are often a good solution to this problem. These garments provide a substantial amount of protection—10 dB (10:1 reduction) minimum. Properly worn, they work quite well at frequencies from about 50 MHz and higher. But there are limitations and cautions, especially at lower frequencies, such as in the AM radio band.

  • RF PPE protection is limited! Putting on an RF protective garment should not be equated with Clark Kent changing into his Superman outfit in a phone booth! The manufacturers of these garments stress that you should know the intensity of the field that you are entering. Most survey instruments are not usable at these high field levels, which leaves computer modeling as the most common method to estimate the field levels. The conservative, recommended approach is to assume 10 dB of protection, so you need to restrict your work to areas that are no higher than 1,000 percent of the MPE limits. One solution is to wear the High-Power Nardalert XT outside of the RF protective garment.

RF Safety Solutions can help you determine what equipment, if any, is right for you. We can train your personnel to not only understand RF safety issues, but work safely in potentially hazardous RF environments. We can also train your personnel to comfortably conduct and document RF safety surveys.