In July 2007, the Alaska Supreme Court made a landmark ruling in which the Court held that a telecommunications worker's exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation at levels slightly above the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) RF radiation safety limit caused psychological or cognitive mental health effects. In upholding a previous decision of the Alaska Workers' Compensation Board, the Court supported the Compensation Board's determination that health effects linked to RF radiation were identified as occurring above the FCC safety limit, but below the RF radiation level at which thermal health effects (associated with heating the body's tissues/organs) occur. Thus, based upon the diagnosis of medical experts, the legal opinion directly contradicts the FCC position that there are no scientifically/medically established harmful health effects that occur below the FCC standard for an acceptable RF radiation exposure level or threshold (that can cause a thermal/heating reaction/health problem).
In this case, an AT&T technician was exposed to RF radiation while working upon telecommunications waveguide equipment. As he was performing his work, he learned that the waveguide amplifier had not been turned off. As his co-worker's radiation safety meter registered high levels of RF radiation emissions, he knew there was a problem. In turn, he experienced headaches, eye pain, depression, as well as loss of memory and the ability to think clearly (referred to as "mental slowing"). Based upon the scientific/medical findings the Workers' Compensation Board awarded the AT&T technician temporary total disability and medical benefits.
This precedent-setting case is very important for CWA represented telecommunications workers as it opens the door for telecommunications and maintenance workers who have been exposed to RF radiation from waveguide and similar equipment, including cellular antennas, and suffered psychological or cognitive mental health effects to file disability claims for medical benefits, compensation for lost wages, and additional monetary benefits. For a copy of the case, please go to: