The Sports Production Safety Group (SPSG) celebrated a banner year in 2012. More than 5,000 industry professionals have now signed on for online training courses designed to create a safer sports-production working environment for everyone at a remote. And more professionals are joining every day as leading national sports networks attempt to make it easier than ever for those on the job to remain safe.And to cap off the year, the Group — formed with the help of SVG three years ago and comprising health and safety experts from CBS, Fox, NBC Universal, ESPN, and Turner — also created a new, safer design for camera baskets that have recently been installed in New Orleans’s Superdome.
“There are six new baskets with telescopic ladders, rails, and lens catches, including a double-wide basket at the reverse-50 position and fall-protection tie-offs,” says Rodney North, director of environmental, health, and safety, CBS Sports. “It definitely has improved the safety of those camera positions.”
According to Rob Bee, director, safety and health, ESPN, working on the Superdome baskets proved the strength the networks can have when they work together. Previous work done on NASCAR tracks, where many camera platforms were in desperate need of help, laid the foundation for the baskets.
“We’re now talking the same story and are on the same page,” he explains. “And now the camera operator working on a show has standard operating procedures with the same requirements and type of training.”
SPSG has been working with the NASCAR Media Group and all 32 tracks on a number of safety modifications. The ongoing work includes 120 customized camera platforms, new, improved ladders with self-closing gates, fall-prevention anchor points, and improvements to TV compounds, such as drainage, lighting, and pavement. And then there are the people working on the events.
“NASCAR was our first sports package to reach 100% of the crew completing their compliance training,” says Ron Partilla, director, production safety, Fox Networks Group. “And Fox Sports Midwest was the first regional sports network to accomplish the same milestones in both St. Louis and Kansas City.”
That training comprises up to eight online courses: orientation, fall protection, hearing conservation, stairs and ladders, scaffolding, forklifts, aerial lifts, and carts. The goal is to allow the large number of freelancers who work for multiple networks to take courses that comprise a single set of standards across all the networks. Previously, each network would offer its own individual classes.
“Regardless of the employer, they are provided the same training which allows them to move from one show to another and save time, as opposed to having to take multiple courses on the same subject,” says North. He adds that, to date, the 5,000 registered users have completed more than 21,000 courses.
Best of all, the courses are free for qualified freelancers and network professionals. To learn more about getting involved, please visit SPSG online by visiting spsgonline.com.
“We can’t make it any easier for our crews [to get training],” says Bee. “The site is much more robust than when we started, and we even have live tech support if users have issues or need help.”