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- Safety on Set
Safety on Set
It is the responsibility of each performer to take an active role in workplace health and safety. While there are guidelines and regulations in place that demand vigilance and oversight on the part of producers, it is up to everyone to ensure the set is a safe working environment. Most crew professionals will go out of their way to work with you to create a safe set.
Your rights to work safely are set out in our Independent Production and Commercial Agreements, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Section 21 Health and Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry. It's a good idea to be familiar with them.
Injury or Sickness On Set
Note that "set" includes all areas of the performer's workplace!
- See the set nurse or medic, when available.
- Report the illness or injury to the closest AD and the Crew Health & Safety Representative. Ask if the production is insured by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) or Accident on Set (AOS).
- See a doctor. Even small injuries can have serious consequences.
- Complete documents to protect yourself in the case of any future insurance claim. These may include an Accident Report, a WSIB or AOS Report and a Police Report (for auto accidents).
- Take down your own detailed notes about what happened, including names and observations, and complete an incident report form.
- Call the ACTRA steward responsible for the production (416.928.2278). Give them copies of all documentation.
- See your family doctor as soon as possible. Get a letter describing your condition.
If you find yourself sick or injured a few days after an incident on set, see your family doctor immediately and notify the ACTRA Steward responsible for the production.
Prevention and Rights
Identify the Crew Health and Safety Representative and any Stunt Coordinator listed on the call sheet. Keep your eyes open and stay alert. Notify someone on the crew if you see something that looks unsafe. Ask questions if you are unsure of your situation or responsibilities.
A stunt expert leads a Members' Conference session on firearms safety on set (2011).
Here are some specific areas of concern to actors on a film set and suggestions as to how to protect yourself.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Accidents caused by tripping, slipping and falling make up the majority of all workplace injuries. Watch out for wet spots and loose cables. Be careful on stairs and when you cross roads.
- Wear seasonal clothing and footwear to the set. Bring layers in case of a change in weather or to cover up with between takes (Section 21 Guidelines, #33).
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wash your hands frequently and demand clean, accessible toilet facilities.
- Watch to see that Make-up and Craft Service personnel are following reasonable hygienic procedures (Section 21 Guidelines, #35 and #37).
- Be careful and ask questions when working with "smoke" or artificial snow on a set (Section 21 Guidelines, #9).
- Water you are working in should be clean and of a reasonable temperature (Section 21 Guidelines, #31 and #32).
- Insist on proper water wear for conditions and an opportunity to warm up between takes (Section 21 Guidelines, #31 and #32).
- Be cautious around propane heaters. They should not be used in an enclosed space. (Section 21 Guidelines, #10)
Allergies and Medical Conditions
It is your responsibility to make production and the crew members specifically involved aware of any allergies (such as to food, make-up, or animals), chemical sensitivities, or phobias. Disclose medical conditions (e.g. epilepsy, chronic back pain, heart condition) that might be triggered on-set.
- Be alert around heavy equipment, including cranes, set structures, overhead lights and flags.
- If you're in the shot, ask if you can attend the on-set safety meeting when a stunt is to be performed whether you're doing the stunt or not.
- Be aware of when and where firearms, explosives, pyrotechnics, open flames, helicopters, wind machines and the like will be used on set. There are a number of Section 21 guidelines to reference for these situations.
- Watch for laser measuring devices being used by focus pullers and other crew members. Ask if they are in use on set and avoid looking directly at them.
- Wear seat belts.
- Don't over-estimate your driving skills. If you're not a "professional" stunt driver, let someone else drive.
- If you've never ridden a motorcycle or driven a boat, the set is not the place to learn.
Performing animals are specially trained. Do not approach them without the trainer's permission and supervision. Review Section 21 Guidelines #40, 41 and 42, which relate to safety around animals on set.
If you're in a scene with an animal, talk to the trainer. Learn all you can about the animal before someone calls "Action!"
Regulations in the IPA and NCA, the Section 21 Guideline #24 and the Industry Standards: Child Performers Guide are in place to protect child performers. Do not bend the rules to please production. The turn-around times and work-day regulations were hard-fought and are for the benefit of these vulnerable performers.
Stunts and Special Skills
A stunt is a performance that is considered dangerous if not performed by someone with special training or is beyond a performer's general experience or abilities and would therefore place them at risk of injury. See Section 21 Guidelines #4, 5 and 6 for more information about safety guidelines related to stuntwork.
Never misrepresent your ability to perform special skills such as rollerblading or horseback riding.
A Stunt Coordinator is the best person on the set to decide whether any particular performance is a stunt and should be subject to a stunt fee. If there is no Stunt Coordinator on set and you feel it would be unsafe for you to attempt the performance that is being requested of you, you should let production know of your concerns and suggest they get a qualified stunt performer to do the performance.
Be aware that long-term, career-ending injuries can result from poorly performed or dangerous stunts. Proceed with caution. Your health and safety should be your primary concern.
As actors, we have more time to stand around and observe. So, if you notice something you feel is unsafe, notify a crew member. Be helpful, respectful and patient and most problems will be resolved quickly and to your reasonable satisfaction. Practice "safe sets!"