Safety Code 6: How It Is Used To Regulate 5G and Operating RF Emission Levels



Safety Code 6 is Industry Canada’s regulatory documentation that defines and recommends safety limits for human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Developed in 1991; Safety Code 6 documentation is updated every 5 to 10 years to reflect ongoing changes and updates to radio frequency equipment, deployed in the frequency range of 3KHz to 300GHz. The latest version, Safety Code 6 2015, further restricted limits for controlled and uncontrolled environments to protect telecommunications workers and the public. With the advent of 5G, new updates are coming in the next several years.


The main question regarding RF emissions from telecommunication devices and radiation in general is, should I be worried? The answer is no. Before any cellular base station is erected atop a residential building or equipment added to a cellular tower, a Safety Code 6 audit and assessment are conducted. Auditors will use specialized equipment to test the RF emission levels to ensure all levels are within the defined Safety Code 6 limits. If the audit passes, the environment is deemed controlled and safe. If the audit fails- the cellular site must be closed and reassessed to ensure all equipment operates within safe levels.


Even though a cellular site may seem to be a controlled environment, audits are always ongoing. As cellular generations advance, new equipment is re-installed to retire old equipment. Any time a change occurs, an audit will be conducted as the cellular environment has changed.


One critical ongoing change is the update from 4G to 5G. 5G promises many advancements in data speeds, lower latency, network reliability and network capacity. 5G deployment will differ from previous cellular generations since 5G equipment promises to be much smaller. A 5G “cell site” may only comprise a single radio mounted on a lamp post or some other stationary object. These radios will require much less power and be deployed in higher quantities, lowering the radiation floor. It may sound contradictory, but more radios operating at a lower power level results in lower RF emissions. Previous cellular generations required higher power to emit cellular waves over long distances resulting in raised RF emission levels.


The important takeaway is that all cellular equipment is regulated and must operate within safe specified power levels to operate. Safety Code 6 ensures these regulations are detailed and followed by all telecom carriers. If you live near a cellular tower or see antennas mounted to the side of a building, know that all equipment is regularly scrutinized for your safety and for the safety of telecom workers.