All the world's a stage: WSPS's newest advisory committee supports Ontario's creative industry - and others

Aug 11, 2014

Film shootCineplex Entertainment's national health and safety consultant was bitten early by the theatre bug. Or more precisely, the movie theatre bug. "My uncle used to own a movie theatre," says Jerry Mouchian, "and at the age of 10 or 11 I used to help by splicing film and setting up the projector."

In addition to managing safety for Cineplex's 165 theatres and 10,000 employees across Canada, Mouchian also chairs WSPS's newest advisory committee, representing Ontario's television, film and live performance industry. The committee was officially launched on June 24 at WSPS's Annual General Meeting.

Well over 100 firms in the agriculture, manufacturing and service industries are represented on WSPS's 10 advisory committees. WSPS draws on the expertise and insights of these volunteers to help develop its strategy, programs, services, and products.

According to Normand Côté, Chair of WSPS's Board of directors, "we rely on the advisory committees more and more for their advice. They are critical to our efforts to become more nimble and responsive. They are a lifeline to what’s going on out there and what we need to focus on to deliver more bang for the customer’s buck."

Resources created by industry for industry

The committees' most visible contributions take the form of new resources developed by the committees. These resources respond directly to community needs and priorities identified by the committee, and are available at no cost on WSPS's website. Here's a sampling:

  • 6 posters on supervisor competencies that help build a strong health and safety culture
  • new worker orientation guide containing components of a robust orientation program and strategies for effective execution
  • musculoskeletal disorder info sheet
  • employer and worker posters on strategies for managing an aging workforce
  • health & safety GPS for small business - compliance tips and information for getting started, with links to additional resources for small business owners.

Promoting health and safety in Ontario's creative industry

"What got me very interested and excited about the Television, Film & Live Performance Advisory Committee is that it fills a gap in representation and communication," says Jerry Mouchian. "There are so many things happening in theatre, cinema, live performance and television, and here's an opportunity to establish a committee that will address health and safety challenges province wide."

Ontario's creative industry is big business. According to the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the industry’s GDP is now larger than Ontario's energy industry, is approaching 70% of the auto manufacturing sector, and surpasses agriculture, forestry and mining sectors combined.1

Among the committee's first steps: identifying commonalities and singularities. All industries experience the same incidents and injuries, such as burns, cuts, slips and falls, sprains and strains, and low back injuries, says Mouchian. While prevention principles remain constant across sectors, how they're applied can vary considerably.

The committee has already identified one singularity: working in the dark. Mouchian provides three examples: "Theatre staff work in the dark when a scene goes black. Cinema staff have 10 minutes to prepare for the next show in semi-lit rooms. Staff in the projection booths are also working in the dark."

Other challenges include

  • slips, trips and falls. For example, steps in cinemas and theatres are not a standard height. They're a lot shallower, and employees and patrons must often use them in dim lighting. Food concession areas are a potential concern for Cineplex because work can be very intense for short bursts of time, and staff are handling beverages and other liquids.
  • instilling a health and safety culture on temporary locations or among people who come together on project work and then disperse.
  • contractor safety. "If I have a contractor coming into Cineplex," says Mouchian, "I want to make sure the contractor is coming into a safe environment and is also safety conscious."

Mouchian anticipates that the committee will eventually create tools specifically for the industry that people will be able to download from WSPS's website. He also envisions opportunities for cross-pollination, with Television, Film and Live Performance Advisory Committee expertise contributing to WSPS's broader pool of expertise and its leadership in Ontario's prevention system. The committees have a strong track record in identifying issues, challenges and trends, and advocating on behalf of WSPS and employers with such system partners as the Ministry of Labour and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Find out more about the work of WSPS’s 10 advisory committees on behalf of WSPS and its member firms.

1 Ontario Ministry of Finance analysis based on Statistics Canada data, as quoted in Ontario's Creative Cluster: Growing Faster than the Rest of the Economy, Ministry of Tourism and Culture: