Film Set Safety – Do’s and Dont’s
Let’s cut to the chase, film set safety is paramount. It’s legally the Producer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their cast and crew at all times.
So, before you or any of your crew step foot on set, get schooled up on the basics of film set safety with these easy to follow do’s and don’ts:
Don’t Skip on the Prep
It goes without saying that preparation is the key to success in any aspect of filmmaking. Therefore, it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to film set safety – so don’t let it be an afterthought.
You want to get ahead on your health and safety early on in pre-production.
Read the Script… Thoroughly
The Producer concerns themselves with how to navigate the health and safety of a film shoot from the moment they read the script. Consider how the action will take place and determine what aspects of film set safety to factor into the budget.
For example, employing a stunt coordinator, a nurse, any security or specific safety measures and PPE equipment.
Consult a Film Set Safety Supervisor
Did you know that there are people in the filmmaking industry whose sole job it is to supervise and assist with film set safety?
Safety Supervisors are extremely helpful and worth their weight in gold.
Essentially, you should engage a film Safety Supervisor in pre-production to provide professional guidance on how to minimise risks on set.
Additionally, they can help you complete your Risk Assessment (more on this below).
Ensure HOD’s Eyeball Locations
It’s vital that you, your 1st AD and the heads of department (HOD’s) get to see your location well in advance of the shoot. Do what’s known as a tech recce, so that you can organise the health and safety measures required, prior to principal photography.
In addition, the Safety Supervisor should attend the tech recce, to help you complete your Risk Assessment afterwards.
Get Your Documentation Ducks in a Row
From scripts to storyboards, call sheets to contracts, films can be very paperwork heavy. There are also some important film set safety documents that you need on top of those more obvious ones.
For example, a risk assessment as well as accident/incident report forms should be created. Some production companies also provide a general health and safety form for crew to read and sign.
The bottom line is, you can never be too careful when it comes to taking care of your crew’s welfare on set.
Complete a Full Risk Assessment
A risk assessment (RA) is a detailed document completed by a qualified Producer or Safety Supervisor.
Importantly, it is a legal document that needs to be done for every film shoot, no matter how small. It lists the possible health and safety risks and hazards that may occur on your film set.
Furthermore, it includes the severity of injury that could occur and the practical control measures you will implement in order to minimise the risk of injury.
Basically, it’s a great way of documenting how you’ll aim to make your film set safe. It should be read by all the crew before filming commences and furthermore, it should be reviewed and amended when anything changes with your shoot.
Here’s a link to an example template for a film set safety risk assessment.
Cover Yourself and Get Insured
Making a film is like setting up a company, where similarly the liability falls with the production company. Therefore, you should make sure you get the relevant insurances.
For example, Public Liability insurance is a minimum requirement, since film set safety doesn’t stop with your cast and crew.
Public Liability insurance is to protect yourself against any claims from a member of public who might get injured on your set. It also covers any property damage caused as a result of filming activity.
For example, any locations that are open to the public. Location owners will expect to sight your Public Liability certificate before agreeing to any filming.
Here’s a link to a respected UK film insurance company Hiscox. On their website they provide definitions and details on different types of cover you might need.
It’s All In The Call Sheet
Your call sheet should say more than simply where and when filming takes place. It’s the go-to document to give your crew the lowdown on everything relating to film set safety too.
Your call sheet should include the general safety rules which are relevant to all film sets.
Not sure what they are? Then keep reading…
Don’t Fret on Set. Do a safety brief
Your AD should brief everyone at the start of your filming day. They’ll reiterate what’s scheduled to be shot, as well as what to watch out for safety-wise.
Ideally they should also provide a friendly reminder of the basics of film set safety. However if not then here’s a few general do’s and don’ts.
- Wear appropriate footwear: Closed in, toe-covered footwear must be worn on set.
- Take 11hrs break between shoots: Crew must ensure that they have had the appropriate rest time from completion of their last job to commencement of work at crew call.
- Report safety concerns immediately: Speak to the AD or Producer about any concerns or observations of unsafe work.
- Locate the First Aid Kit: Production should always provide a first aid kit and notify crew as to where it will be located on set.
- Provide nearest hospital/medical emergency contact details: This should be on the call sheet and reiterated to crew on set.
- Notify crew who the First Aider is: This should be someone qualified and available to attend to any medical issues on set.
- Point out the emergency assembly area: Identify this at each location and have the AD tell the crew at the start of the shoot.
- Employ correct heavy lifting techniques: Lift using the legs, not the back and ask for help when a two-man lift if required.
- Plug it in until you’re given the OK: Ask a member of Electrics before connecting any appliance on set.
- Delay reporting accidents: All crew are responsible of reporting potential hazards, incidents, accidents and near misses immediately.
- Smoke on set: This applies to all areas of a location. Crew should leave the location during designated breaks if they wish to smoke.
- Drink alcohol or take illicit drugs: No one should attend a shoot under the influence of alcohol of drugs and they must be safely removed from set if they are.
- Harass anyone: Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated on set and crew should speak up if they witness harassment towards to them or anyone else.
- Forget to slip, slop, slap on the sunscreen: Be sun safe. Top up sunscreen regularly, wear a hat and stay hydrated on exterior shoots.
Wrapping Up – Film Set Safety
To sum up, film set safety should always be treated as a priority.
Likewise, all crew should be encouraged to take it seriously and acknowledge its importance. Afterall, their wellbeing is your responsibility as a Producer. So, it’s in their best interest that you do your best when it comes to film set safety.
Ultimately, I want to remind readers that short-cuts are never wise when it comes to health and safety in filmmaking. It’s never worth the risk, because the worst things can happen to the best of us.
So, follow our guidance, do further research and always ask for help from a safety professional. And stay safe, on and off set, folks 😉
Disclaimer: This article is purely for informational purposes, not legal advice. The Video Collective, its editors and authors will not be held responsible for any legal issues the reader might encounter based on the subjects found in this post.