" DISCLAIMER: The ILO does not take responsibility for content presented on this web portal that is presented in any language other than English, which is the language used for the initial production and peer-review of original content. Certain statistics have not been updated since the production of the 4th edition of the Encyclopaedia (1998)."

Monday, 28 March 2011 19:29

Telecommunications

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Telecommunications is the act of communicating with others through the use of electronic equipment like telephones, computer modems, satellites and fibre optic cables. Telecommunications systems comprise telecommunications cables from the user to the local switching office (local loops), the switching facilities which provide the communications connection to the user, the trunks or channels that transmit calls between the switching offices and, of course, the user.

During the early to mid-twentieth century, telephone exchanges, electromechanical switching systems, cables, repeaters, carrier systems and microwave equipment were introduced. After this occurrence, telecommunications systems spread to the industrialized areas of the world.

From the 1950s to 1984, technological advances continued to appear. For example, satellite systems, improved cable systems, the use of digital technology, fibre optics, computerization and video telephony were introduced throughout the communications industry. These changes allowed for the expansion of telecommunications systems throughout more areas of the world.

In 1984 a court ruling in the United States led to the breakup of the telecommunications monopoly held by American Telegraph and Telephone (AT&T). This breakup coincided with many rapid, major changes in the technology of the telecommunications industry itself.

Until the 1980s telecommunications services were considered to be public services operating within a legislative framework that provided monopoly status in virtually all countries. Along with the development of economic activity, the advent of new technologies has led to the privatization of the telecommunications industry. This trend culminated in the divestiture of AT&T and the deregulation of the US telecommunications system. Similar privatization activities are underway in a number of other countries.

Since 1984, technological advances have produced and expanded telecommunications systems that can provide universal service to all people throughout the world. This occurs as telecommunications technology is now converging with other information technologies. Related fields such as electronics and data processing are involved.

The impact of the introduction of new technology on employment has been mixed. Without question, it has reduced levels of employment and produced the de-skilling of jobs, radically altering the tasks of telecommunications workers as well as the qualifications and experience required of them. However, it is anticipated by some that employment growth will occur in the future as a result of the new business activity stimulated by the deregulated telecommunications industry that will produce many highly skilled jobs.

Occupations within the telecommunications industry can be categorized as either skilled craft or clerical work. Craft jobs include cable splicers, installers, outside plant technicians, central office technicians and frame technicians. These jobs are highly skilled, particularly as a result of the new technological equipment. For example, employees must be very proficient in the electrical, electronics and/or mechanical fields as they relate to the installation, service and maintenance of telecommunications equipment. Training is acquired through classroom and on-the-job training.

Clerical occupations include directory assistance operators, customer service representatives, account representatives and sales clerks. In general these tasks involve the operation of communications equipment such as VDUs private branch exchange (PBX) and facsimile machines which are used to establish local and/or long distance connections, perform business office work inside or outside the workplace and handle sales contacts with customers.

Hazards and Controls

The occupational safety and health hazards within the telecommunications industry can be categorized by the type of tasks or services performed.

Building and construction operations

In general, the same risks occur as in construction and building operations. However, several noteworthy activities which are specific to telecommunications include working at heights on poles or pylons, installing telecommunications wiring systems and excavating for cable laying. The usual means of protection, such as climbing gaffs, safety harnesses, lines and raise platforms and proper shoring for excavations, are applicable in telecommunications. Often, this work is performed during emergency repairs made necessary by storms, landslides or floods.

Electricity

The safe use of electricity and electrical equipment is extremely important when performing telecommunications work. The normal preventive measures against electrocution, electric shock, short circuits and fires or explosions are fully applicable to telecommunications. Also, a serious source of danger may arise when telecommunications and electricity cables are within close proximity to one another.

Cable laying and maintenance

A significant safety and health concern is cable laying and maintenance. Work on underground cables, pipelines and jointing chambers involves handling heavy cable drums and pulling cables into pipelines with power-driven winches and cable equipment as well as cable splicing or jointing and insulation or waterproofing. During cable splicing and insulation jobs, workers suffer exposure to health hazards such as lead, solvents and isocyanates. Preventive measures include use of the least toxic chemicals, adequate ventilation and PPE. Often, maintenance and repair work is performed in confined spaces like manholes and vaults. Such work necessitates special ventilation equipment, harness and lifting equipment and the provision of a worker stationed above ground who is able to perform emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and rescue activities.

Another health and safety concern is working with fibre optic telecommunications cables. Fibre optic cables are being installed as an alternative to lead and polyurethane-encased cables because they carry many more communications transmission and they are much smaller in size. Health and safety concerns involve potential burns to the eyes or skin from exposure to the laser beam when cables become disconnected or broken. When this occurs, protective engineering controls and equipment should be provided.

Also, cable installation and maintenance work performed in buildings involves potential exposure to asbestos products. Exposure occurs as a result of the deterioration or break-up of asbestos products like pipes, patching and taping compounds, floor and ceiling tiles and reinforcing fillers in paints and sealants. During the late 1970s, asbestos products were banned or their use was discouraged in many countries. Adherence to a worldwide prohibition will eliminate exposure and resultant health disorders for future generations of workers, but there are still large amounts of asbestos to contend with in older buildings.

Telegraph services

Telegraph workers use VDUs and, in some cases, telegraph equipment to perform their work. A frequent hazard associated with this type of work is upper extremity (particularly hand and wrist) musculoskeletal cumulative trauma. These health problems may be minimized and prevented with attention to ergonomic work stations, work environment and work organization factors.

Telecommunications service

Automatic switching and connecting circuits are the mechanical operations components of modern telecommunications systems. Connections are generally made by microwave and radio frequency waves in addition to cables and wires. Potential hazards are associated with microwave and radio frequency exposures. According to available scientific data, there is no indication that exposure to most types of radiation-emitting telecommunications equipment is directly linked to human health disorders. However, craft employees may be exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation while working in close proximity to electrical power lines. Data have been collected that suggest a relationship between these emissions and cancer. Further scientific investigations are being conducted to more clearly determine the seriousness of this hazard as well as appropriate prevention equipment and methods. In addition, health concerns have been associated with emissions from cellular telephone equipment. Further research is being conducted to draw conclusions regarding potential health hazards.

The vast majority of telecommunications services are performed with the use of VDUs. Work with VDUs is associated with the occurrence of upper extremity (particularly hand and wrist) musculoskeletal cumulative trauma disorders. Many telecommunications unions, such as the Communications Workers of America (US), Seko (Sweden) and the Communication Workers Union (United Kingdom), have identified catastrophic rates of VDU workplace musculoskeletal cumulative trauma disorders among the workers they represent. Proper design of the VDU workplace with attention to work station, work environment and work organization variables will minimize and prevent these health problems.

Additional health concerns include stress, noise and electrical shock.

 

Back

Read 3751 times Last modified on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 13:21

Contents

Preface
Part I. The Body
Part II. Health Care
Part III. Management & Policy
Part IV. Tools and Approaches
Part V. Psychosocial and Organizational Factors
Part VI. General Hazards
Part VII. The Environment
Part VIII. Accidents and Safety Management
Part IX. Chemicals
Part X. Industries Based on Biological Resources
Part XI. Industries Based on Natural Resources
Part XII. Chemical Industries
Part XIII. Manufacturing Industries
Part XIV. Textile and Apparel Industries
Part XV. Transport Industries
Part XVI. Construction
Part XVII. Services and Trade
Education and Training Services
Emergency and Security Services
Entertainment and the Arts
Health Care Facilities and Services
Hotels and Restaurants
Office and Retail Trades
Personal and Community Services
Public and Government Services
Resources
Transport Industry and Warehousing
Part XVIII. Guides

Public and Government Services Additional Resources

Click the Button below to view additional resources for this topic.

button

Public and Government Services References

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). 1989. Guidelines for the Assessment of Bioaerosols in the Indoor Environment. Cincinnati, OH: ACGIH.

Angerer, J, B Heinzow, DO Reimann, W Knorz, and G Lehnert. 1992. Internal exposure to organic substances in a municipal waste incinerator. Int Arch Occup Environ Health; 64(4):265-273.

Asante-Duah, DK, FK Saccomanno, and JH Shortreed. 1992. The hazardous waste trade: Can it be controlled? Environ Sci Technol 26:1684-1693.

Beede, DE and DE Bloom. 1995. The economics of municipal solid waste. World Bank Research Observer. 10(2):113-115.

Belin, L. 1985. Health problems caused by actinomycetes and moulds in the industrial environment. Allergy Suppl. 40:24-29.

Bisesi, M and D Kudlinski. 1996. Measurement of airborne gram-negative bacteria in selected areas of a sludge dewatering building. Presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, 20-24 May, Washington, DC.

Botros, BA, AK Soliman, M Darwish, S el Said, JC Morrill, and TG Ksiazek. 1989. Seroprevalence of murine typhus and fievre boutonneuse in certain human populations in Egypt. J Trop Med Hyg. 92(6):373-378.

Bourdouxhe, M, E Cloutier, and S Guertin. 1992. Étude des risques d’accidents dans la collecte des ordures ménagères. Montreal: Institut de recherche en santé de la sécurité du travail.

Bresnitz, EA, J Roseman, D Becker, and E Gracely. 1992. Morbidity among municipal waste incinerator workers. Am J Ind Med 22 (3):363-378.

Brophy, M. 1991. Confined space entry programs. Water Pollution Control Federation Safety and Health Bulletin (Spring):4.

Brown, JE, D Masood, JI Couser, and R Patterson. 1995. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis from residential composting: residential composter’s lung. Ann Allergy, Asthma & Immunol 74:45-47.

Clark, CS, R Rylander, and L Larsson. 1983. Levels of gram-negative bacteria, aspergillus fumigatus, dust and endotoxin at compost plants. Appl Environ Microbiol 45:1501-1505.

Cobb, K and J Rosenfield. 1991. Municipal Compost Management Home Study Program. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Waste Management Institute.

Cointreau-Levine, SJ. 1994. Private Sector Participation in MSW Services in Developing Countries: The Formal Sector, Vol. 1. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Colombi, A. 1991. Health risks for waste disposal industry workers (in Italian). Med Lav 82(4):299-313.

Coughlin, SS. 1996. Environmental justice: The role of epidemiology in protecting unempowered communities from environmental hazards. Sci Total Environ 184:67-76.

Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS). 1993. International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research Involving Human Subjects. Geneva: CIOMS.

Cray, C. 1991. Waste Management Inc.: An Encyclopedia of Environmental Crimes and Other
Misdeeds, 3rd (revised) edition. Chicago, IL: Greenpeace USA.

Crook, B, P Bardos, and J Lacey. 1988. Domestic waste composting plants as source of airborne microorganisms. In Aerosols: Their Generation, Behavior and Application, edited by WD Griffiths. London: Aerosol Society.

Desbaumes, P. 1968. Study of risks inherent in industries treating refuse and sewage (in French). Rev Med Suisse Romande 88(2):131-136.

Ducel, G, JJ Pitteloud, C Rufener-Press, M Bahy, and P Rey. 1976. The importance of bacterial exposure in sanitation employees when collecting refuse (in French). Soz Praventivmed 21(4):136-138.

Dutch Occupational Health Association. 1989. Protocol Onderzoeksmethoden Micro-biologische Binnenlucht- verontreinigingen [Research Methods in Biological Indoor Air Pollution]. Working Group Report. The Hague, The Netherlands: Dutch Occupational Health Association.

Emery, R, D Sprau, YJ Lao, and W Pryor. 1992. Release of bacterial aerosols during infectious waste compaction: An initial hazard evaluation for healthcare workers. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 53(5):339-345.

Gellin, GA and MR Zavon. 1970. Occupational dermatoses of solid waste workers. Arch Environ Health 20(4):510-515.

Greenpeace. 1993. We’ve Been Had! Montreal’s Plastics Dumped Overseas. Greenpeace International Toxic Trade Report. Washington, DC: Greenpeace Public Information.

—. 1994a. The Waste Invasion of Asia: A Greenpeace Inventory. Greenpeace Toxic Trade Report. Washington, DC: Greenpeace Public Information.

—. 1994b. Incineration. Greenpeace Inventory of Toxic Technologies. Washington, DC: Greenpeace Public Information.

Gustavsson, P. 1989. Mortality among workers at a municipal waste incinerator. Am J Ind Med 15(3):245-253.

Heida, H, F Bartman, and SC van der Zee. 1975. Occupational exposure and indoor air quality monitoring in a composting facility. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 56(1): 39-43.

Johanning, E, E Olmsted, and C Yang. 1995. Medical issues related to municipal waste composting. Presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, 22-26 May, Kansas City, KS.

Knop W. 1975. Work safety in incinerator plants (in German) Zentralbl Arbeitsmed 25(1):15-19.

Kramer, MN, VP Kurup, and JN Fink. 1989. Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis from a contaminated dump site. Am Rev Respir Dis 140:1086-1088.

Lacey, J, PAM Williamson, P King, and RP Barbos. 1990. Airborne Microorganisms Associated with Domestic Waste Composting. Stevenage, UK: Warren Spring Laboratory.

Lundholm, M and R Rylander. 1980. Occupational symptoms among compost workers. J Occup Med 22(4):256-257.

Malkin, R, P Brandt-Rauf, J Graziano, and M Parides. 1992. Blood lead levels in incinerator workers. Environ Res 59(1):265-270.

Malmros, P and P Jonsson. 1994. Wastes management: Planning for recycling workers’ safety. Waste Management & Resource Recovery 1:107-112.

Malmros, P, T Sigsgaard and B Bach. 1992. Occupational health problems due to garbage sorting. Waste Management & Research 10:227-234.

Mara, DD. 1974. Bacteriology for Sanitary Engineers. London: Churchill Livingstone.

Maxey, MN. 1978. Hazards of solid waste management: bioethical problems, principles, and priorities. Environ Health Perspect 27:223-230.

Millner, PD, SA Olenchock, E Epstein, R Rylander, J Haines, and J Walker. 1994. Bioaerosols associated with composting facilities. Compost Science and Utilization 2:3-55.

Mozzon, D, DA Brown, and JW Smith. 1987. Occupational exposure to airborne dust, respirable quartz and metals arising from refuse handling, burning and landfilling. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 48(2):111-116.

Nersting, L, P Malmros, T Sigsgaard, and C Petersen. 1990. Biological health risk associated with resource recovery, sorting of recycle waste and composting. Grana 30:454-457.

Paull, JM and FS Rosenthal. 1987. Heat strain and heat stress for workers wearing protective suits at a hazardous waste site. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 48(5):458-463.

Puckett, J and C Fogel 1994. A Victory for Environment and Justice: The Basel Ban and How It Happened. Washington, DC: Greenpeace Public Information.

Rahkonen, P, M Ettala, and I Loikkanen. 1987. Working conditions and hygiene at sanitary landfills in Finland. Ann Occup Hyg 31(4A):505-513.

Robazzi, ML, E Gir, TM Moriya, and J Pessuto. 1994. The trash collection service: Occupational risks versus damages to health (in Portuguese). Rev Esc Enferm USP 28(2):177-190.

Rosas, I, C Calderon, E Salinas, and J Lacey. 1996. Airborne microorganisms in a domestic waste transfer station. In Aerobiology, edited by M Muilenberg and H Burge. New York: Lewis Publishers.

Rummel-Bulska, I. 1993. The Basel Convention: A global approach for the management of hazardous wastes. Paper presented at the Pacific Basin Conference on Hazardous Waste, University of Hawaii, November.

Salvato, JA. 1992. Environmental Engineering and Sanitation. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Schilling, CJ, IP Tams, RS Schilling, A Nevitt, CE Rossiter, and B Wilkinson. 1988. A survey into the respiratory effects of prolonged exposure to pulverised fuel ash. Br J Ind Med 45(12):810-817.

Shrivastava, DK, SS Kapre, K Cho, and YJ Cho. 1994. Acute lung disease after exposure to fly ash. Chest 106(1):309-311.

Sigsgaard, T, A Abel, L Donbk, and P Malmros. 1994. Lung function changes among recycling workers exposed to organic dust. Am J Ind Med 25:69-72.

Sigsgaard, T, B Bach, and P Malmros. 1990. Respiratory impairment among workers in a garbage-handling plant. Am J Ind Med 17(1):92-93.

Smith, RP. 1986. Toxic responses of the blood. In Casarett and Doull’s Toxicology, edited by CD Klaassen, MO Amdur, and J Doull. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Soskolne, C. 1997. International transport of hazardous waste: Legal and illegal trade in the context of professional ethics. Global Bioethics (September/October).

Spinaci, S, W Arossa, G Forconi, A Arizio, and E Concina. 1981. Prevalence of functional bronchial obstruction and identification of groups at risk in a population of industrial workers (in Italian). Med Lav 72(3):214-221.

Southam News. 1994. Export ban on toxic waste proposed. Edmonton Journal (9 March):A12.

van der Werf, P. 1996. Bioaerosols at a Canadian composting facility. Biocycle (September): 78-83.
Vir, AK. 1989. Toxic trade with Africa. Environ Sci Technol 23:23-25.

Weber, S, G Kullman, E Petsonk, WG Jones, S Olenchock, and W Sorensen. 1993. Organic dust exposures from compost handling: Case presentation and respiratory exposure assessment. Am J Ind Med 24:365-374.

Wilkenfeld, C, M Cohen, SL Lansman, M Courtney, MR Dische, D Pertsemlidis, and LR Krakoff. 1992. Heart transplantation for end-stage cardiomyopathy caused by an occult pheochromocytoma. J Heart Lung Transplant 11:363-366.