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Safety Rules for TV News Vans Are OKd

The state regulations were prompted by an accident that injured an L.A. reporter.

October 18, 2002|Bob Pool | Times Staff Writer

The nation's first safety rules for television news crews were approved Thursday by state officials, two years after an accident severely burned and paralyzed a Los Angeles TV reporter.

Regulations enacted by the California Occupational and Heath Standards Board are designed to prevent TV crews from accidentally raising microwave antennas into overhead power lines at the scene of news events.

News vans will be required to have a "constant pressure" switch that will force broadcast workers to stand where they can see the antenna as they press the mast's lift button.

The trucks also must be equipped with nighttime mast lights, warning signs and an audible alarm that sounds if the van is driven with the mast extended.

Five Los Angeles-area television unions pressed for the regulations after KABC-TV reporter Adrienne Alpert was injured when her news van's antenna was raised into a 19,980-volt electric line along Santa Monica Boulevard in May 2000.

The new rules will take effect 30 days after final review by lawyers, officials said.

They also will mandate training for news crews and supervisors, something that may make "management more sensitive to the time pressures and dangers news crews face every day," said Gena Stinnett, a KABC-TV videotape editor and president of the local branch of the National Assn. of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.

About 1,000 microwave vans in California will be covered by the regulations.

"We want to do everything possible to prevent what happened to Adrienne from ever happening again," said Leslie Simon, a representative of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

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