Five ways to keep your staff safe in live operations


by Marco Lorenzi

Content production is changing and the emphasis to keep staff protected has never been more apparent. How can organizations keep their employees safe during live operations?


by Marco Lorenzi

Content production is changing and the emphasis to keep staff protected has never been more apparent. How can organizations keep their employees safe during live operations?

COVID-19 is likely to have permanently changed the way companies – both in sport and entertainment – manage their operational workflows. A safe production environment is now more important than ever amid a health crisis that has presented every production environment with important challenges.

On the back of the strict lockdown imposed earlier this year that saw much of the worldwide workforce start working from home, organizations have had to adapt to higher health and safety standards, while guaranteeing the same level of accuracy in production and distribution of content, as employees return to operation centers. .

How can these businesses keep their staff safe when they’re required to work in small spaces for a prolonged period of time? We spoke with Deltatre’s Enrico Stanchi, Head of Event Operations based in Turin, Alessandro Avanzi and Andrea Vastano, Servicing and Operations, LIVE Division in Turin and London respectively, to round up five aspects that are key a safe working environment in the COVID-world.

#1. Health checks and pre-authorizations

When working in offices or production environments, staff should undergo specific health checks, such as the measurement of the body temperature, in order to gain access. Some production sites, however, might have additional rules in place, in the form of health questionnaires and pre-registrations to be approved for a limited number of workers, as well as one-way only access to the premises where appropriate.

#2. Enhanced hygiene measures

Hygiene comes first, now more than ever. Consider making it mandatory for teams to wear facemasks during the entire length of a shift, always keep a safe distance of two meters, and use sanitizing gel frequently to keeps hands and surfaces clean.

Think about how you can also change the set-up of the environment. Before the lockdown, operators would have been free to work together with directors and other technical staff in the same studio or operation room. Now businesses should be looking at open spaces with fixed workstations and desks at a safe two-meter distance. Help operators keep in touch with their port of calls via talkbacks to maintain a seamless workflow.

#3. No shared hardware

Hardware – think of a keyboard or mouse attached to a desktop or laptop – should no longer be shared in order to avoid any unnecessary contact. Everyone should be provided with accessories for personal use. And at the end of each shift, require staff to thoroughly wipe the work desk, or station, leaving a message of completion after the procedure for the person who comes next.

#4. Revised travel policies

Travelling between places is by far one of the biggest challenges live operators currently face. The restart of sport around the globe initially with domestic competitions, and with international professional competitions due to kick off again soon, is brings a host of new challenges. Live operations, especially for soccer and tennis tournaments, will be re-organized according to the revised medical protocols soon to be released by the relevant organizations.

#5. On-venue presence

Where presence of crews on-site must be guaranteed, there are several additional aspects to be considered. When in use, for instance, vans with dedicated operation workstations should be sanitized before every use. Put a limit on two people that can work from a van at the same time. Not only should facemasks and hand sanitizing gel be provided to the staff for daily use as per general recommendations, but also third parties personnel must comply with the same rules when accessing the work area.

Each team among the staff should be provided with thermometers to consistently check their body temperature. Finally, mandate that the designated supervisor must get the temperature of each member of the crew – including him/herself – before entering the venue, along with signed declarations of no contact had with people potentially diagnosed with COVID-19.

Remote production is leading the way

As a direct effect, COVID-19 has accelerated a drift – already underway – of the sport and entertainment industries towards decentralized remote production. Travel and social distancing restrictions put in place by various governments in the past few months, indeed, have impacted the way broadcasters and content distributors work. One of the first examples comes from BT Sport, who – amid the emergency – chose to move the entire production operation out of its London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in just under three weeks. As a result, they were able to support a full production operation working from decentralized locations. Not only a necessity to guarantee the company’s ‘business as usual’ status, but also a path to the future, even as restrictions began to ease.

To wrap it up, here's a summary of actions

  • Check body temperature before admitting access
  • Provide staff with face masks and sanitizing gel to be used for the whole shift
  • Require staff to sanitize work environments
  • Always respect the two-meter safety distance
  • Only use hardware provided for personal use
  • Comply with additional safety protocols when working on-venue

What are your thoughts on social distancing, live operations and remote production in time of COVID-19 and beyond? Join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.