Friday, 7 June 2013

News Producers Place TV News Cameraman In Mortal Danger.

All TV news producers should read this. A news cameraman's life is in your hands on a daily basis.

Due to my traumatic experience, i will be sleeping downstairs tonight...

It was another day and seemingly another usual TV news filming opportunity under the watchful eyes of the corporate Health and Safety watchdogs. I have written about this before, and as such, listened with a bit more seriousness than I otherwise would have, due to the now infamous 'stubbed toe débâcle,' that made world headlines in Health and Safety magazine. So i listened... Until that is, I was informed of just how dangerous a situation my heartless news producers had placed me in.

"Please be careful when entering and exiting the building via the stairways. Please make use of the handrail at all times and take one step at a time. Do not run... Should you need assistance, please ask a member of staff..."

I'm glad they told me that, as my eyes widened in horror. For I have not undertaken the three day 'Walking up and down the stairs, (cameraman)' safety course, nor the 'Harness and rope access (General broadcast)' course. It appeared that my news producers had recklessly put me into the line of mortal danger without a second thought. The bastards.

A TV news cameraman can usually take the steps three or four at a time whilst carrying a camera, sound bag and tripod, but this, i am told, is not advisable in the corporate, risk averse world. I asked if i should fill out a 6 page risk assessment form before going downstairs as gravitational and stupidity issues could impede my stable ambulatory progress and, I had forgotten my crampons.

You see, falling down stairs is the easy bit. Sure, you may snap a few vital bones or split your gizzard on the way down, but the real damage comes with the landing at the bottom. It even has an official medical term... 'Rapid cameraman deceleration trauma.' It's ugly to witness. Blood, snot, plastic and glass everywhere... There are a few Paramedics who have seen it and cannot sleep at night.

It would seem that putting one foot in front of the other is a dangerous pastime in corporate UK and so i learned, is going outside. I was informed that the ground was uneven, trip hazards were abundant, moving vehicles could crush me and machinery could mangle me to a bloody pulp. To avoid any risk of certain death outside, I was given a high visibility vest.

I thought about it... What if I fell down the stairs by stupidly taking two steps at a time, without holding the handrail, rolled out into the road and was hit by a truck thereby hurling me into a nearby, yet handily placed mangling machine..? Don't worry I tell myself, I have a high visibility vest... Nothing can go wrong, and I try not to think about it. Damn it producers, I should have done the course...

However, thanks to the kind health and safety lady, I was now well informed of the risks to my bodily wellbeing. I am a TV news cameraman, I can do this. I psyched myself up for the stairwell, summoned my inner Sherpa Tensing, and managed all two flights of steps without incident. Although at one heart pounding point, three steps from the bottom, the health and safety lady clutched my elbow in reassurance as i got a bit wobbly at the knees. So near yet so far...

The health and safety lady smiled at me as we finally reached ground level. She was so proud. So was I, for without harness, ropes and safety courses denied to me by my heartless producers, I descended all of the fifteen to twenty feet diagonal descent without breaking anything. It was a close call, my life hung by a mere thread.

I breathed a sigh of relief. No cameraman should ever have to go through this without a recognised safety course and certificate, oh... and a nominal dangerous duties (Cash) payment.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter