Safety Manuals

and, A Tribute to those who have helped bring the industry safety manuals - The Fathers of ENG Safety [click here]

New England Cable News (NECN) manual. [click here]

CBS ENG Safety Manual from IBEW Local 45

Other safety manuals and a new newsletter are available.

One is a Sample Helicopter Safety Manual, written by ace veteran pilot Leroy Tatom, and available by e-mailing us, or,
 for the latest from the National Broadcast Pilot's Association, go to

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 lives on.

The electronic copy of the Sample ENG Manual is $20.00. You can pay right here.

    When the funds are received, usually within 3-4 days, the mail will be sent. Please remember to tell us your name so when the manual is sent it can be addressed to someone other than "ENG Safety Manual Recipient."

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 Definitely download it, read it, then pass it around!!!!   The site of the original manual, 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]

The ENG 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 edition.

E-mail for more information.

Thank You for your interest in safety.

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Who REALLY 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.

Leroy Paul 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 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
LaVaughn Thompsonfor 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, right.)
    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 industry.
    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.

Picture of John Dodge    John Dodge checked in with us. He's another of the FATHERS of ENG Safety    
    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, and
help 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 safety.
    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 Dodge Jr.

  Dave Wertheimer, Father of ENG Safety.    

Dave Wertheimer has been a safety advocate for as long as we can remember.  Seen "Look up and Live"?  That's Dave's work.

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.

   John Premack    
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 other industries.
    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 was sticky for everyone. A solution required invention.
    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 the odds?”
    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 written about.
    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 nobody.
    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, and anywhere.
    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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