1. RF 101

    When it comes to working in the telecom industry, it’s no secret that there are a wide variety of different dangers. Most dangers can be seen – whether it has to do with falling, having things fall on you, etc. But not all dangers are visible with the human eye – or even any human sense. This week our Gear Experts® are going to break down the hidden danger of RF.

    More Than Meets the Eye


    RF, or radio frequency, is any electromagnetic wave frequency. In the telecom industry, this is the energy that is emitted from radios or telecommunications equipment. Electromagnetic wave frequencies can’t always be seen or heard, but they are absorbed by your body and, if overexposed, can cause serious harm.

    The Dangers of RF


    So, now that we know what RF is and that just because we can’t see, hear, or otherwise sense, it doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Let’s cover some of the effects of RF exposure. The primary effect is heating – think of it like a microwave oven which uses electromagnetic waves to heat food from the inside out. Keep in mind, that while a microwave does use electromagnetic waves to cook food, it is a very large amount of power being concentrated into a tiny steel box. Most telecom related RF situations will not be nearly as drastic as a microwave oven. However, the basic concept is the same. When the electromagnetic waves are absorbed by your body they heat it up from the inside out and you begin to experience RF sickness.

    Symptoms of RF Sickness


    RF Sickness won’t be noticed by most people right away. In fact, some people may never even realize they have it, which can cause added risk. The reason people don’t always know they have RF sickness is because the primary symptom is heat. It can be difficult to determine whether you may have RF sickness, or you simply haven’t been drinking enough water and might be dehydrated. With that being said, the symptoms of RF Sickness are most commonly compared to having a fever – making it even more difficult to detect.

    Effects of RF Sickness


    RF heats your body from the inside out. That means that as you are exposed to it, it is raising your core temperature. It’s not the same as standing next to a heater where you would feel the heat on your skin rather the heat would begin radiating outward from your core.

    As your core begins to heat and your body begins to lose the ability to prevent your temperature from rising you can start to experience heat stress. The symptoms of heat stress include rash, cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea, confusion, heavy sweating, weakness, seizures, and unconsciousness. We’ve covered heat stress in its entirety on a previous blog post which you can find by clicking here. 

    While all symptoms of heat stress are serious and should be treated immediately, we want to focus on confusion for just a second. Confusion also referred to as irrational behavior, can lead to costly mistakes and potentially fatal accidents. In fact, it is difficult to know if some tower fatalities were caused because of human error, or if confusion caused by RF sickness was to blame.

    RF Exposure


    The actual full breakdown of how the human body reacts to RF exposure can get pretty technical and is beyond the scope of a blog post. But, boiled down to its most basic explanation, our bodies are more receptive to lower frequencies. And, because of the way our bodies react to RF frequencies the way that safe exposure limits are expressed is more of a bell curve rather than a straight line. Beyond that, RF exposure tracking uses a 6-minute averaging rule.

    6-Minute Averaging Rule


    What the 6-Minute Averaging Rule means is that over the course of 6 minutes your average exposure level cannot exceed that of 100% of the FCC limits. Essentially, what this means is that you could have a brief period where you are at 150% of the FCC limits, but then for the next few minutes you are only at 25%. This is acceptable because the average exposure level over the course of 6 minutes is below 100%.

    FCC RF Limits


    As we mentioned above, the FCC has outlined limits for RF exposure that are calculated using the 6-minute averaging rule (0.1-hour periods). The FCC RF limits are applied to “normal environmental conditions and for incident electromagnetic energy of frequencies from 10 MHz to 100 GHz, the radiation protection guide is 10 mW/cm.(2) (milliwatt per square centimeter) as averaged over any possible 0.1-hour period.” Below is a breakdown of what this means.

    • Power density: 10 mW/cm2 for periods of 6 minutes or more
    • Energy density: 1 mW.-hr/cm2 (milliwatt hour per square centimeter during any 6-minute period.

    It is important to note that this guide applies whether the exposure is continuous or intermittent within the 6-minute averaging period.

    Limiting RF Exposure


    When it comes to limiting RF exposure there are two main components. The first component is proper training while the second component is a safety monitor.

    Proper Training

    Just like everything in the tower industry, training is an important part of ensuring safety. We have partnered with industry-leading training companies like Safety LMS to offer an online Fundamentals of RF/EME Radiation course. This course was designed to help ensure that employees can recognize the hazards of RF that exist on tower sites – whether that is a tower or a rooftop.

    RF Monitors

    An RF monitor complements training. After all, being trained to understand and handle a hazard is great, but when you cannot detect the hazard with your senses, it’s kind of hard to make sure you’re not exceeding safe exposure limits. One reason why an RF monitor is so important is that it is a shaped probe/shaped response device. What that means is that it has the ability to account for all RF frequencies in the surrounding area (like a rooftop with multiple different types of antennas) and calculate the amount of exposure from each. It then combines those numbers and bounces that against the safe working limits.

    With personal RF monitors like the FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor you can rest assured that you will be able to accurately detect RF. We covered the FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor in a previous blog post which you can read by clicking here.

    We recently featured Max Birch, the lead engineer for FieldSENSE, as our guest on our podcast: Gear Up with Gear Experts. Max dropped some knowledge bombs about RF and helped break down some of the complicated parts of RF awareness and safety. You can find that podcast episode by clicking here. 

    If you have any questions about RF safety or RF Monitors, click here to contact one of our Gear Experts®.

    Click here to see our blog post about the FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor

    Click here to view the FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor

    Click here to listen to our RF Safety podcast episode

    **The content of this blog is not intended to replace proper, in-depth training. Manufacturer’s instructions must also be followed and reviewed before any equipment is used.

    FieldSENSE: Guide to Recalibration


    Gear Up with Gear Experts: The Podcast


    If you haven’t already checked out Gear Up with Gear Experts, our podcast dedicated to at-height, industry, and construction, it is available for download! You can find it on all major podcast listening platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, + your favorite podcatcher of choice. And, you can head on over to gearexperts.com to follow us on social media, check out our detailed show notes, and sign up for updates.

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  2. Must-Haves: Tower Climber Edition

    As a tower climber there is a ton of different gear to choose from and sometimes weeding through everything can take way too much time. This week our Gear Experts® are going to break down the must-have gear you need to get the job done and stay safe.

    The Gear


    So, what are the essentials needed for tower climbers?


    Let’s start with the most obvious: a harness. Your harness is the focal point of all your gear, but which harness is the best? Well, that depends on some factors about what job you will be doing. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. You can click here to check out our Ultimate Fall Protection Harness Buying Guide for details on how to pick the right harness for you.


    The next intricate piece is a helmet. Protecting your dome is important and picking the right helmet ensures that your noggin will go uncracked. Picking the right helmet involves a little bit of knowledge about the job at hand. Check out our Safety Helmets 101 blog post where we take you through the what’s what when it comes to keeping your noodle safe. You can also download our free Safety Helmets 101 pdf from our Knowledge Base.

    Twin Leg Lanyard

    Once you’ve got your harness and helmet covered, it’s time to look at a shock absorbing lanyard. Twin leg lanyards are diverse. They come in a range of styles and lengths for a range of specific applications (like foot level tie off or tie-back) and with a ton of different connection point options.

    Cable Safety Sleeve (Cable Grab)

    Chances are, a tower you encounter will have a cable climb system which means you will need a way to securely connect your harness to that system. In fact, nearly every telecom tower in North America has a cable climb system of some sort. So, your gear list isn’t complete without a cable grab. While the basic function of cable grabs are pretty much the same – there are subtle differences in each.

    Pass-Through Sling (Pass-Through Web Anchor)

    Sometimes you will run into a situation where you need to make your own anchorage point. Having a pass-through anchor in your gear list will give you the ability to produce that anchorage point.

    Positioning Lanyard

    You’ve made it to your destination on the tower, but now you can’t quite work where you need to because the cable climb system isn’t in the right spot and you need both of your hands to work. That’s where a positioning lanyard comes in. Using your twin leg lanyard to move safely to your working location you can then position yourself and work handsfree with your positioning lanyard.

    Bolt Bag

    You’ve only got two hands (us too, unfortunately) which means that carrying nuts, bolts, and small tools up the tower while your climbing isn’t possible. That’s why a bolt bag is on our must-haves list.


    At least one carabiner will make your life and the job so much easier. We recommend at least two typically, but one will get you by. Carabiners have a ton of different applications but using one to connect your bolt bag to your harness isn’t a bad idea. Find out more about carabiner gates with our free downloadable pdf from our knowledge base.

    Separator Bar (Spreader Bar)

    Sitting or leaning while positioned on the tower can place a lot of pressure on your waist and hips. It’s hard on your body and uncomfortable. Especially if you’re in that position for an extended amount of time. Using a separator spreader bar helps relieve that pressure and keep you feeling great.

    RF Monitor

    Not all dangers can be seen with the human eye and RF frequencies are one of them. Ensuring that you are not overexposed to RF waves is extremely important to your safety and the FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor has you covered. For more information on the FieldSENSE RF Monitor check out our blog post.

    Duffle Bag

    You’re loaded up with all the must-have gear for climbing the tower, but now you’ve got one little problem – you can’t carry it all. Did we mention having 2 hands isn’t enough already? A duffle bag fixes that problem. Fit all your gear neatly organized in one single, easy to transport duffle bag.

    All-In-One Solution


    We’ve covered a lot of information in this blog post – and sifting through all of the different options for each of the must-have pieces of gear takes time. Because we know that your time is precious our Gear Experts® have put together an Essential Tower Climbing Kit that includes all of the equipment we discussed in this blog post (except for the RF Monitor). It also includes a variety of upgradable options (like the RF Monitor).

    We have a variety of different kits assembled by our Gear Experts® for a range of different applications.

    Need help finding the perfect kit? Click here to contact one of our Gear Experts®.

    Click here to see our full selection of tower climbing gear

    Click here to see our Essential Tower Climbing Kit

    **The content of this blog is not intended to replace proper, in-depth training. Manufacturer’s instructions must also be followed and reviewed before any equipment is used.

    Tower Climbing Kits: Video Edition


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  3. FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor

    There are many jobsite hazards that tower climbers experience every day. Our goal here at GME Supply is to make sure that we provide you with the tools and information you need to stay safe. One hazard that can sneak by, because it is invisible, is radio frequency (RF) waves. These invisible waves can wreak havoc on your body and health. But don’t worry; GME Supply’s got you covered. This week we are going to talk about the FieldSense 2.0 Personal RF Monitor.

    FieldSense 2.0 Personal RF Monitor


    This second generation RF monitor is the latest and greatest in RF protection. It has been specifically designed to protect you when you’re working around broadcast and telecom antennas. With a frequency range of 50 MHZ to 6 GHZ, you're covered no matter the situation. This is a huge upgrade from the previous model which measured from 380 MHZ to 2.7 GHZ. The 2.0 also measures both E and H fields to accurately assess the entire exposure situation.

    Packed with Features


    The FieldSENSE 2.0 has some really cool features. The data logging feature captures all of your measurements and records them on the device. Then, using a PC, a USB cable, and the free software provided by FieldSENSE you can access them later. The device is also isotropic which means it measures all radiation from all angles.

    It is designed to be worn on your body, and the unique attachment device makes it easy to secure on your harness, keeping it out of the way of your work, and your climbing. Another great feature is voice notes. You can actually speak into the device and record specific information like an antenna serial number or specific measurements. Then you can access them later for documentation.

    It also has a fall detection alarm, so when a fall occurs, it sounds an alarm. This is both to alert other climbers that the device is falling, or if you drop it off the tower, it makes it so it's easy to find on the ground. It is super rugged. In fact, it's made out of the same stuff that riot shields are made out of. And it’s weather resistant.

    The device is powered by two AAA batteries which are included. And it comes in a nice zipper case for easy transport and protection.



    The 2.0 RF Monitor is a highly technical machine that you rely on to be extremely accurate. Because of the need for this accuracy, the monitor needs to be calibrated by the date on the sticker located on the bottom of the device. The recalibration process is easy and ensures that your device is accurate so you can stay safe on the job. When a recalibration is required simply fill out this form and follow the instructions.

    Once we receive your device, we send it to the original manufacturer in Capetown, South Africa to be recalibrated. We immediately send you a recalibrated unit we have on site to replace the one you sent us, so you don't have to worry about long shipping times and can continue to be safe while on the job.

    Have a question about the FieldSENSE 2.0 or the recalibration process? Click here to speak with one of our Gear Experts®.


    FieldSENSE 2.0 Personal RF Monitor


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