A Tribute to
those who have helped bring the industry safety manuals - The
Fathers of ENG Safety [click
England Cable News (NECN) manual. [click here]
CBS ENG Safety Manual from IBEW Local 45
manuals and a new newsletter are
One is a Sample Helicopter
Safety Manual, written by ace
veteran pilot Leroy Tatom, and available by e-mailing us, or,
latest from the National Broadcast Pilot's Association, go to http://www.nbpa.rotor.com.
Another is an ENG Sample Safety
Manual, which is a generic
version of the infamous AFLAC manual.
AFLAC had the best safety program
in the business before being bought out by Raycom.
Special Thanks to
Leroy Paul, past President of their Broadcast Division, and LaVaughn
Thompson, safety proponent, program designer, and the other folks who
compiled the great work.
They've saved hundreds of lives as their work
The electronic copy of the
Sample ENG Manual is $20.00. You can pay right here.
The third one is the manual put together by Andrew Funk of WAGA. Go
right to Andrew's page to find out about it through a Radio World
article he wrote about safety, at http://www.arfunk.com/professional-info/rw-article.html.
Definitely download it, read it, then pass it around!!!!
The site of the original manual, www.wagatv.com/ENG was stripped of its
content by Fox Corporate about a year before the accident at Fox
O&O WTTG. That story may serve as a safety lesson in itself. What's
YOUR attitude towards safety? I guess we can pass the word about safety
or pass the hat for fallen co-workers or companies which get fined,
(WTTG was initially fined about $10K) or lose their valuable vans,
(WTTG's was totaled and cost a lot to replace.) and have to do a lot of
work, much harder than just creating and enforcing safety programs.
Fox, and therefore WTTG, seems to have a good one now. As of the date
of this posting, over a year after the 5/2/00 accident, only 2 of the
3-person crew has returned to work. [See
story about May 2, 2000]
Safety Newsletter is a comprehensive 4-page monthly newsletter
which not only acquaints your staff with many aspects of ENG safety,
but reminds them of it every month. It is published with the
intent that it is to be copied as many times as is needed in ONE
facility. Everybody from front-line field people on back to the General
Manager can get a feel for your company's momentum towards a safer
environment for the $195/year subscription fee. Each edition of the
manual contains a short "no-stress" test of the newsletter's material
and each edition can be personalized to facilitate documentation. Such
education and documentation works in compliance with OSHA requirements.
Go to the The
ENG Safety Newsletter page for a look at the displayed sample
for more information.
Thank You for your interest in safety.
[back to main
made it possible for the industry to have a base for safety information?
In 1994, a phone conversation with Jack Vines of Television Engineering
Corporation initiated another to one of the smallest stations in one of
the smallest markets in the US, KWWL in Waterloo, IA. The calls
provided information about how one small group of stations, then owned
by AFLAC, helped assure safety for their employees. Their safety
program also helped assure that the stations and the corporation would
also be protected against potential liability claims for having
uneducated or untrained operators, and/or no written safety policies
applying to equipment that can reach overhead power lines. When
stations train their operators, it also helps TV truck integrators and
equipment manufacturers avoid costly liability lawsuits as well.
Pictured on the left is Leroy
Paul, the President of the AFLAC Broadcast Division.
When Mr. Paul found out that
Mark Bell, magazine writer and author of the ENGsafety.com website, was
writing a three part series for Television Broadcast magazine, he had
some concern, as it was thought many stations or companies MUST
have had manuals for the critical aspect of employee safety, and
theirs was just another from a small company.
The first two parts of a
three part series on safety written for the magazine was sent to Mr.
Paul through Vice President of Engineering LaVaughn Thompson. (Picture,
Mr. Paul and Mr. Thompson reviewed the text and were
informed about the lack of education and training outside their
company. By the time their review was complete, part three had been
written and sent to them. Mr. Paul and Mr. Thompson agreed that making
the AFLAC manual available to broadcasters would be a great service to
the industry, and authorized the free and unrestricted distribution of
the manual to anybody who would simply request a copy. Over 300 people
did so, making the manual the basis for many safety manuals in the
Their action was cause for the three part series to
become a four-part series, the last being the details of this great
manual, and the generosity of the AFLAC Broadcast Division.
Mr. Paul and Mr.
Thompson, no doubt, are responsible for saving many lives.
Dodge checked in with us. He's another of the FATHERS of ENG
Here is a little background on me: I graduated from Brooks Institute of
Photography in Sept 1971 with a major in Motion pictures. Since there
were no openings in Hollywood, I came back to my home town Waterloo,
IA, and a neighbor of my parents invited me down to KWWL TV and offered
me a job as a news photographer.
At the time we were using 16mm film and was one of
the first stations in Iowa to go all video tape.
When the first ENG trucks came out, ours was a
converted GMC Suburban with a 3 pipe mast with a golden rod antenna.
Safety was always first and foremost, and at that time there were no
safety shut off switches on the mast.
After one of the young photogs forgot to wait for
the mast to drop all the way down, he drove off and hit a high power
line and cut the mast off. No one was hurt, but it did shut off power
to some farmers, who were very unhappy with our company.
After that the chief engineer and I talked over that
as we add more photographers, we need some type of training. Since I
was on the ground floor of ENG, he wanted my input on the use of the
truck, and he added the technical part. That is how the training book
started. (The AFLAC manual) The new photogs had to pass a written test
that Jim and I put together, then do a test in the field using the
truck. After passing the 2 tests they were assigned to me to follow me,
in doing live shots until I was satisfied that they can go on their
own. I would make the training as simple as I could, and always pushed
That's how the safety program got started. There is
no story in the world that is worth putting people in life and death
situations for, just for the sake of the story. The hardest part was
working with young new out of college producers,
who had no idea on what it is like in the field in all weather
conditions. That's why I always wanted them to go out with us on a live
shot to see what's it is all about.
Due to a non work related injury I was forced to
retire after 34 years. I loved my profession, and would not trade it
for the world. --John
Dave Wertheimer has been a safety advocate for as long as we
can remember. Seen "Look up and Live"? That's
One of the finest and most well known proponents of ENG safety is Mr.
Dave Wertheimer, who is certainly one of the "Fathers" of safety.
Dave's efforts have been paramount in getting information about safety
around. One example of this is the "Look up and Live!" video that's
been passed around the industry for over a decade. Dave
Wertheimer, a true "Father" of ENG safety.
Dave has had numerous jobs
around the US in his diligent career, and spends time on the faculty of
the NPPA News Video Workshop, now teaching safety, and the many other
aspects of photojournalism, through another technological change and
transition. Dave's had to keep up with them all. Dave, we salute
you, a true Father.
The best of the best in the field and with invention? John
Premack is a true Father of ENG Safety.
It was near three decades ago when one of the
smartest people in the Boston TV Market wrote out a plea to the
industry to start looking at newsgathering safety as an important
supplement to the way stations should operate their news departments.
A 1986 accident at a
Philadelphia TV station prompted a call for better procedures, as a
mast-into-wires accident severely injured a technician and the
newsgathering efforts of her station.
Hers was not the first, as
a fatality and an accident requiring burn-related amputations had
occurred years earlier, shocking many. Stations didn’t know what to do.
Employees sought guidance. Agencies who monitor and try and prevent
industrial accidents scratched their heads, but had a larger number of
accidents in other industries and little time to deal with what were
few-and-far-between TV industry accidents. Their work demanded they pay
attention to the more numerous injury and fatality circumstances in
John Premack was the Chief
Photographer at WCVB in Boston for many years up until his recent
retirement, and wrote a great article for the RTNDA “Communicator” that
made a plea to the industry to become aware of accidents and hazards in
this increasing-use industry “thing” we called live shots.
John was the cream of the
crop of ENG. He shot film in its day, then guided WCVB’s great news
staff, vehicle and equipment integrators, and frankly, the industry,
into safe and sound journalistic practices while inventing the practice
we call ENG, SNG, and also now, BNG. He wrote about it, too. Safety was
part of all of it.
But writing about ENG
safety was sort of dangerous, because people barely knew what safe was,
and accidents resulted from unsafe operations. When the “problem” was
mentioned, it wasn’t nice...it was sticky for everyone. A solution
John appropriately wrote:
“Am I brewing a tempest in a teapot or do news executives pay
insufficient attention to this topic? How many news directors know what
precautions their crews take? Are the folks in the field at your
station following established policy, making their own, or just playing
It could not be truer
prose from a person at a leading station, not just in Boston, but all
over the world as ENG propagated.
People were being killed
and few knew why. John did.
Words became whispers.
Whispers became voices.
On February 22, 1994, a
well regarded technician was killed in Alexandria, VA. A rumbling
underground of people talked and passed around one or both of the two
tapes that recorded the incident as it happened. Safety professionals
in many trades also viewed the tapes. The incident, along with others
in the past, gave cause for many people to express thoughts such as:
“Gee, they really ought to do something about that.” It was that basic.
And, basically, nobody
knew what to do.
Also in 1994, this author,
Mark Bell, started writing for Television Broadcast magazine. (TVB)
After a few months people started approaching me about incidents at
their station or in their market, and the accident many were talking
about. The Virginia accident was viewed, further researched, then
As I was compiling
material about industry safety, John’s article and the “players”
involved were key in understanding the accidents and responses. The
“tempest in the teapot” simmered...
I wrote a four part series
in TVB on ENG Safety. Nobody wrote four part series for trade
magazines, but the blessings of a great publication owner and
supportive staff made it happen. For four months the industry was
bathed in safety awareness.
Among John’s work was
being the longtime head of the annual NPPA News Video Workshop held in
Norman, OK. He invited me to present at the 1995 News Video Workshop.
It was the start of almost a decade of NPPA ENG safety concentration.
The “tempest in a teapot” was now relevant.
The whispers that became
voices through TVB were multiplied by NPPA presentations to about 400
people each year. John had a vision and I had the blessing of timing, a
great magazine, and a safety hungry broadcast culture.
Safety awareness was
happening. It was talked about. Practice was being invented.
An accident in Des Moines
was witnessed in part by a Workshop attendee. After she saw what was
going on and got through the fog of disbelief, she knew immediately
what to do, and ran around yelling to people to stay away from the
truck until responders arrived.
Good, but awareness after the fact. We had to do better.
People all over the world
paid attention. They offered stories, sent pictures. Awareness went
viral, before viral was “viral”.
Was it working? Was safety
awareness on a path to overcome its lack? Awareness is a state that
requires unending vigilance and observation. Practice of risk-avoidance
follows. It takes the whole “village” to assure that colleagues and the
industry work safely, and still get the job done. We were getting safer!
But even with the best
hope, sometimes reality gets the best of everyone, and physics spares
On one bad day in his
career, John was involved in a type of mast incident he urged others to
avoid, toppling a mast after “sleepwalking” through a live shot
take-down and moving the truck with the mast up. However this happened,
John contributed once again to the effort by inadvertently
demonstrating that it can happen to anyone, even the best of the best,
as John was.
And other “best” employees
have suffered similar fates. It CAN happen to any one of us....anytime,
So, here in the month
measuring the 10th year the industry has not had a fatality; the first
time it’s gone 10 years without one since live trucks have been
commonly used, and decades after John’s work was carried forward for
the cause of saving lives and property, it is the honor of the ENG
Safety Newsletter to officially name John Premack as one of the Fathers
of ENG Safety.
It’s safe to say that
without John’s vision and enabling the NPPA to be a great catalyst for
the cause, it may have never happened.
John: Thank You. Bless you. Have a great retirement!
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