Health and Safety Tips for Production Crews

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Countless activities take place on-set in unison. You have the actors and their stunt doubles prepping and the production crew handling different pieces of equipment to ensure every take is successful. It’s, therefore, no surprise to hear accidents occurring. Fortunately, many are avoidable. Here are valuable health and safety tips your production crew should implement.

1. Plan Beforehand

This tip applies to small and big production crews alike. One of the best ways to prepare is by conducting a location scout. Typically, a location manager oversees this process, which involves evaluating a film location to determine if it is suitable for filming.

Other production crew members like the gaffer and scrip supervisor will also visit the filming location to identify any health and safety issues—key things to pay attention to include potential hazards, power sources, and facilities. For instance, does the place have toilets? Or where are the escape routes, and is it a challenging location like an underground station?

2. Undertake a Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is necessary to:

  • Determine potential hazards, i.e., anything that could cause immense harm. Examples include weather elements, prop guns and a challenging filming location, lifting, tripping, and fall hazards.
  • Examine risk, i.e., the chances that the identified hazard could cause harm. For instance, if you use firearms, do you have a weapons master on set? And if the location is noisy, does the production crew have personal protective equipment(PPE)? Also, does the location compromise covid-19 safety measures?
  • Identify safety protocols. The final step is to find ways to eliminate or mitigate the risks identified. In the case of prop guns, having an armorer on-set is paramount. This professional will test-fire weapons beforehand. They will also examine the prop guns to verify there’s no lodged object in the cylinder. This expert also ensures the crew members are in a safe position when filming begins. Another measure is to make medical facilities available and provide PPEs like safety glasses, hearing protection, pyrex glass, and special gloves.

3. Secure and Test All Production Equipment

While it is not a legal requirement in the US, portable appliance testing(PAT) is an essential filming safety measure. PAT examines electrical equipment—checking for leakages and insulation resistance.

Once complete, ensure your team also secures cables and other equipment. Heavy tools and cords increase the risk of slips and falls. Use special tape or cable crossovers to keep electrical cords in place. Consider using multicolored cables to prevent mismatching.

Ensure only trained crew members handle the equipment. For instance, C-stands support heavy tools like backdrops and gear and can hurt people if they accidentally fall.

4. Protect the Team From Weather Elements

Production companies tend to overlook weather changes, despite these being one of the most common hazards. First, it would help factor in extreme weather in the filming budget. Some questions to consider asking yourself are:

  • Do we have cooling stations?
  • Is there a trained medic on-set?
  • Do we have extra protective items such as tarp covers, sunscreens, water, appropriate clothing, and other supplies?
  • Do we have a disaster recovery plan and a provider to address fire damages and catastrophes like storms and hurricanes?

Also, prepping your production equipment for extreme weather ensures your filming crew is safe. For instance, you could use plastic on equipment racks, ground electrical wires, and cover lighting with rain hats.

5. Over-Communicate

Communication is ultimately the best way to ensure your production crew follows health and safety measures. Every member should have a manual and, more importantly, understand all guidelines. Consider having safety briefs daily and offer refresher training to crew members. Finally, ensure each member can locate escape routes, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers.

Production health and safety measures are an ethical responsibility that every production company should take seriously. Whether your team hires a disaster response provider or ensures PPEs are always available, every action counts.

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About the Author

Janet Alton
Janet Alton is a writer and content specialist for ATI Restoration, hailing from Portland, Oregon. Janet focuses on writing pieces on restoration for the visual arts industries including media, painting, sculpture, and more. When Janet is not writing for ATI Restoration, she can usually be found doing yoga and hanging out with her dogs.

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