The Dangers of Working on Cell Towers
There’s no question that the tower-climbing profession is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Handling hazardous materials under strenuous and risky conditions, cell-tower climbers must always be on their toes. This dangerous work ensures that cellphone service providers can supply their customers with the best possible signal. The following are some of the dangers of working on cell towers and how these professionals work through them on a daily basis.
Whenever someone makes a call, their cellphone communicates with the nearest cell tower using radiofrequency, or RF, waves. These waves, while not as dangerous as standard ionized radiation, generate an abundance of heat that can begin affecting a tower climber in large doses. Over long periods, RF waves can begin heating up an individual’s body tissues and make them sick. It’s also suspected that these waves can eventually cause other serious health conditions such as cancer.
For cellphones and their towers to work properly, the towers need to have a large signal range. Because of this, they can be anywhere from 200 to over 1,000 feet tall and require specialized equipment to climb properly. Their height alone makes accidental falls one of the leading causes of tower climber injury. As such, every worker is required to be trained in the importance of fall protection and how to use the necessary fall protection equipment before they’re allowed to climb.
Though cell tower climbers don’t directly handle direct electrical lines as linemen do, there’s always the risk that they could be exposed to dangerous electrical currents. In fact, while performing their maintenance duties on a tower, tower climbers often need to turn off the power in certain areas to work. This requires a solid understanding of how the towers are powered and how they can reroute the electricity away from their workstation.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Whether it’s bright and sunny or cold and rainy, cell tower climbers are still required to work. This puts them in a position to deal with a series of hazardous weather conditions and potential risks. Even if the outdoor conditions seem tame on the ground, it’s important to remember that they can be significantly worse the higher you climb. This can make a nice day dangerous for one of these professionals. Additionally, the higher they are off the ground, the colder the temperatures get. It’s for this reason as well that tower climbers need to be prepared with extra layers of clothing, gloves, and hats in case the temperature becomes intolerable.
When working on cell towers, climbers not only need to be aware of the conditions around them but also the status of their own equipment in order to stay safe. Equipment failures can quickly turn a routine climb into a disaster. All professional tower climbers must inspect their equipment before each climb and remove the tool from service if it fails. Though it might seem tedious, this process can ultimately save a person’s life.
- Amethyst Jamiro