Ensuring Safety in Outside Broadcasting: Navigating Hazards for Seamless Operations

Published On: April 18, 2024Categories: Health & Safety, Media

An outside broadcast (OB) is the production of a television or radio program from outside of the studio. It is most commonly used to cover news, live sports, or live music events. It involves deploying a team of skilled technicians, camera operators, and support staff to capture, produce, and transmit live content to audiences worldwide.

An OB requires meticulous planning, technical expertise, copious equipment, and the ability to adapt to various environments and challenges. Whether it’s setting up camera rigs in stadiums or safely navigating crowds, outside broadcasting brings the excitement of live events directly to viewers’ screens, making it an essential component of modern media production.

However, amidst the excitement are a number of hazards that broadcasters must address to ensure the safety of their crew and equipment and the success of their broadcasts. At RiskPal, we explore some of the challenges outside broadcasters can encounter and the risk management strategies implemented for a safer working environment.

Outside Broadcasting

Safety in the Workplace

Safety should always be the top priority, with a proactive identification and mitigation of potential hazards. It is not uncommon for OB companies to think the safety responsibility rests with the broadcaster. However, any third-party contractor should be responsible for the safety of its own people and equipment.

As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and in the world of outside broadcasting, this sentiment rings more accurate than ever.

Frequently Overlooked Risks of Outside Broadcasting


Travel poses a significant, but often overlooked, hazard in outside broadcasting. After putting in long hours, crew members may embark on several additional hours of driving, especially at night. This combination of fatigue and extended travel can increase the risk of accidents on the road, jeopardising both personal safety and the success of the broadcast. Implementing structured rest periods, arranging transportation alternatives, and promoting awareness of the dangers of fatigue can significantly mitigate this risk.


Rigging equipment is laden with hazards, but it is often during the dismantling phase that accidents occur. Amidst the rush to wrap up and head home, it is tempting to cut safety corners. Crew members being struck by cables or equipment are not uncommon during de-rigging operations. Implementing proper protocols, such as sequential dismantling and ensuring clear communication among crew members, can minimise the risk of accidents during this critical phase.

Manual Handling Challenges

The bulk and weight of broadcast outside broadcasting equipment, often packed in hefty flight cases, pose significant challenges in manual handling. Crew members must transport this equipment to various locations, including stadiums, buildings, and outdoor venues, often navigating uneven terrain and stairs. Prioritising proper lifting techniques, utilising equipment such as trolleys and lifting aids, and providing adequate training can mitigate the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and accidents associated with manual handling.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are among the most frequent yet underreported accidents in outside broadcasting. These incidents can occur on surfaces including concrete steps, uneven terrain, and stairs leading to scanners or outside broadcasting trucks. Crew members, often laden with cables and equipment, are particularly vulnerable to such accidents. Implementing regular inspections, maintaining clear walkways, and providing appropriate footwear can significantly reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls.

Working At Heights

Working at heights is inherent to outside broadcasting, with camera operators, riggers, and technicians often required to ascend cranes, gantries, or rigging structures. Despite the thrill of capturing unique angles and perspectives, working at heights carries inherent risks, including falls and equipment malfunctions. Prioritising appropriate fall protection equipment, conducting thorough risk assessments, and providing comprehensive training are paramount to ensuring the safety of personnel working at heights.

Managing Aggression from Spectators & The Public

While relatively rare, aggression from spectators at sporting events or members of the public passing by can pose a significant risk to the safety of outside broadcasting crews. Verbal altercations, physical confrontations, or acts of vandalism can potentially disrupt operations and compromise the safety of crew members and equipment. Implementing security measures, establishing communication protocols with event organisers and local authorities, and promoting situational awareness among crew members can help mitigate the risk of aggression from spectators or the public.

Risk Management of Outside Broadcasting

David Holley, RiskPal Co-Founder

Mitigating the hazards associated with outside broadcasting requires a comprehensive approach encompassing risk assessment, equipment maintenance, crew training, and emergency preparedness. – CJ Brown

Thorough Risk Assessment

Conducting thorough risk assessments before each outside broadcast allows broadcasters to identify potential hazards and implement appropriate control measures. Risk assessment platforms are a great way of mitigating risk factors. They provide all the tools needed to share risk management reports across your organisation quickly. By showing changes across risk thresholds in different departments, you can better collaborate to mitigate risks before they cause significant damage.

Proper Equipment Maintenance

Regular inspection and maintenance of outside broadcasting equipment ensure optimal performance and minimise the risk of equipment-related accidents or malfunctions.

Comprehensive Crew Training

Providing comprehensive training to crew members on safety protocols, manual handling techniques, working at heights, and emergency procedures enhances their ability to mitigate risks effectively.

Emergency Preparedness

Equipping crew members with the knowledge and resources to respond swiftly and effectively to emergencies, including medical incidents, security threats, or adverse weather conditions, is essential for ensuring the safety and success of outside broadcasts.

Outside broadcasting presents a dynamic and exhilarating environment, but it also poses significant hazards that must be addressed to ensure the safety of crew members, equipment, and broadcast success. By understanding the primary hazards encountered in outside broadcasting and implementing strategies and best practices for risk mitigation, broadcasters can enhance safety standards, minimise accidents, and ensure seamless operations during outside broadcasts. Prioritising thorough risk assessment, proper equipment maintenance, comprehensive crew training, and emergency preparedness are paramount to navigating the hazards of outside broadcasting successfully.

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