Behind the Scenes: Ensuring Workplace Safety in Film Production

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The glamor of the movies makes film production seem like the perfect job for many people. However, in true Hollywood style, lurking just below the surface of all the glamor, dangers await!

Every industry has its unique safety concerns, and film production is no different. Indeed, the nature of creating movies creates its own dangers. Dramatic action sequences that require the creation of realistic stunts, intricate set designs, and the use of dangerous props, can expose cast and crew members to potential risks and hazards unique to the industry.

Of course, the dangers inherent in any workplace are also present. So, let’s have a look at how to ensure workplace safety in film production. 

Setting the Scene: The Importance of Workplace Safety in Film Production

Workplaces all have their safety challenges. There are plenty of safety tips that can apply to any workplace

However, the film industry has to deal with a wide and ever-changing range of risk factors. For instance, the risks on a factory floor are likely to be well understood and unlikely to change dramatically overnight. 

Compare this to the movie industry which has to deal with factors like sets that change overnight, risks when filming on location, the security of staff & actors, and the dynamic nature of film production. These all present a distinct set of challenges for ensuring workplace safety.

Among the specific safety challenges that film production companies face are:

  • Temporary and changing sets: Sets are frequently constructed and dismantled, requiring constant monitoring and adherence to safety protocols.
  • Location filming hazards: Filming in unfamiliar or outdoor locations introduces additional risks such as uneven terrain, unpredictable weather conditions, and limited access to emergency services.
  • High-risk action sequences: Filming action scenes involving stunts, special effects, or pyrotechnics requires meticulous planning, trained professionals, and strict safety measures to prevent accidents.

Alongside these risks are the more mundane and everyday hazards that are present in most workplaces. Film production may be a glamorous profession, but without proper safety procedures, it can also be a dangerous one. 

Learning Your Lines: Identifying Risks in Film Production

The first step in managing risks in any industry is to identify and understand them. In the film production industry, this process begins with a comprehensive risk assessment that takes into account the unique challenges and hazards associated with film production. 

Ensuring the welfare of production teams across the various aspects of film production requires the proactive implementation of safety measures and protocols at every stage. This requires a comprehensive and wide-ranging approach to safety to counter many of the specific risks faced by the industry. 

There are too many to list completely, but the following are a few of the specific safety challenges in film production:

  • Handling hazardous materials and dangerous equipment on set.
  • Preventing accidents and injuries, both on-set and on-location.
  • Managing security and crowd control.
  • Managing risks associated with working with animals on-set.
  • Ensuring the proper maintenance of equipment.

These and other specific challenges make film production safety a complicated and multi-faceted task. However, by identifying these risks and taking a proactive approach to mitigate them, film production companies can ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone involved in the industry.

…And Action – Implementing the Steps to Ensure a Safe Workplace in Film Production

The safety challenges facing film production companies are as diverse as they are complex, requiring a multi-layered approach to ensure a safe workplace. But once the risks are understood, the necessary steps can be taken to navigate the challenges. 

All good safety practices start with the creation of a comprehensive risk assessment of the workplace. On top of this, ongoing training programs, effective communication protocols, and ongoing assessments are critical. These should be implemented as a matter of course in all workplaces. 

But there are physical elements that can also enhance safety in film production: 

Security Cameras

In an industry dominated by cameras, this might seem like a strange choice. But modern business camera systems are incredibly advanced and can play a large role in film production safety. 

Today’s cameras can incorporate features such as high-resolution imaging, wide-angle lenses, and low-light capabilities, modern business camera systems provide film production companies with enhanced visual monitoring and surveillance.

It is worth noting that surveillance cameras should always comply with legal frameworks on the monitoring of staff in the workplace.

Access Control Systems

Preventing unauthorized access to sensitive areas is a critical aspect of safety on film sets. Modern door access control systems can be an instrumental part of an integrated security system. 

By utilizing technologies such as keycard or biometric authentication, film production companies can ensure that only authorized personnel have entry to restricted zones, such as equipment storage areas, props rooms, or critical production spaces.

Effective Communication Channels

Finally, an integrated approach to safety on the film set is underpinned by efficient communication channels that seamlessly integrate with the other components like business camera systems. 

This makes sure that all cast, crew, and safety personnel are aware in real-time of critical safety information and can respond swiftly to safety concerns or emergencies as they arise.

It’s a Wrap: Keeping Safe in Film Production

Film production may be glamorous, but unless proper safety protocols and security measures are implemented, it can also be a dangerous workplace. By understanding the risks and ensuring the proper safety procedures are in place, film companies can make sure the only dangers are those that the audience sees in the final cut!

A comprehensive risk assessment, appropriate and ongoing training, ongoing risk assessments, and modern hardware like security cameras & access control systems, can all ensure that the only drama happens where it should – on the silver screen!

This blog was contributed directly to Workplace Fairness. Republished with permission.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.