Gerard Arrotti, CIH, CSP
Introductions presents profiles of industrial hygienists working to protect
worker health worldwide. This month
we feature Gerard Arrotti, CIH, CSP,
who is senior director of Safety and
Sustainability at ESPN, Inc. in Bristol, Conn. Arrotti manages the global
safety, sustainability and risk management programs. During his time
at ESPN, he has developed a crisis
management plan that effectively addresses all hazards within the organization. Under his direction, the team at
ESPN had a Lost Workday Injury Rate
of 0.12 in 2011 and was recognized
by the National Weather Service as a
Before working at ESPN, Arrotti was
the manager of safety and health at
ABC, Inc. in New York City.
Arrotti received a BS in biology
from Iona College and an MS in
environmental health science from
New York Medical College. He can be
reached at (860) 766-7139 or Gerard.
What are the most significant hazards facing workers in the sports programming industry? Many people probably think the sports programming industry doesn’t
have any significant hazards, but there are some considerable ones. When we’re broadcasting a show, we’re often in another company’s venue—a venue that we have limited
control over. We frequently have to place cameras in high areas, so there are risks associated with fall hazards.
ESPN’s main campus has its own electrical distribution systems, so there are significant hazards working around and with high voltages, though now we’ve essentially
eliminated most of those risks. Additionally, we’ve done a full arc flash survey of the
campus. We still have some lockout/tagout issues on our main campus, and out on the
road as well, but the most significant hazard overall is probably falls.
How do you manage the challenges of working at venues that you have limited
control over? Typically we’re not the only folks who are taping in these venues—there
are other entities as well: the major networks like CBS, FOX, NBC, TNT. There’s a consortium through a trade organization called the Sports Video Group. Under that, we
have a group of safety professionals, representatives from each of the networks, called
the Sports Production Safety Group. The role of that organization is to promote safety,
come up with consensus standards and educate venues on liability issues and safety issues. It’s provided a lot of momentum in correcting many situations at the venues we
Please describe the Crisis Management Plan you’ve developed at ESPN.
The crisis management plan is an approach to any type of crisis or peril where we have
an emergency operation center (EOC), a committee made up of different members from
different parts of the company to really manage a crisis. We strive to make them very
proficient in doing that, so we have routine and regular exercises every year with the
EOC team. We’re constantly practicing and revising our plans. We have procedures for
responding to workplace violence issues, snowstorms—basically every different type
of peril, there’s a process already established and well entrenched so that if something
happens, we’re on it, people know what their roles are and then they get guidance from
the EOC as we get deeper into the crisis.
What changes have you seen in safety and health at ESPN over the years?
I think our program in general has matured. We’ve gotten better at identifying and mitigating hazards, and I think a lot of it comes from our collaboration with other departments. We have established relationships with partners within the organization, and
they know we’re not there to prevent them from doing their jobs; we’re there to improve their ability to do their jobs and do them safely. We’ve built our department’s
credibility over time, and I think people know and trust us. Your safety program can
never mature if you don’t establish credibility and you don’t build relationships with
other folks within your organization.