What are the health and safety risks in the performance industry
With so many different departments ranging from wardrobe, stage crew, hair and make-up, food and beverage, to box office sales, the performance industry presents unique and unusal occupational health and safety hazards. From back stage personnel to the performers under the lights, the very nature of the performance industry brings inherent risks to those involved. Whether it is dance choreography, on-stage fight sequences and rapid scene changes, there are heavy demands on those both on and off the stage.
The very complex logistics of the performance industry and the often tight deadlines and time pressures, can lead to serious problems if, you as an employer, are not vigilant when it comes to health and safety. Something that was safe in the rehearsal hall may no longer be safe when moved on stage with technical elements like lights and sound added. You as an employer need to create and implement a health and safety program that meets the unique needs of the performance industry, without inhibiting the creativity and energy behind your production.
The Ministry of Labour, along with members of the performance industry, has developed a series of safety guidelines for everyone in this industry, including performers, support staff and management. You can view the full listing of safety guidelines on the Ministry of Labour's website.
What the law says
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act each employer / producer, supervisor and working professional must be familiar with the provisions of the Act and the regulations that apply to film and television work environments. All of these workplace parties have responsibilities under this legislation. For the purpose of the Act, self-employed independent contractors are considered to be "workers".
An Ontario Ministry of Labour inspector may find those who direct work to be supervisors under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This determination will be based on the specific facts of the situation, and may or may not be consistent with the reporting structure or the collective agreements which exist.
As such, supervisors have certain duties under the Act and can be convicted for an offence of failing to comply with these duties.
How can a health and safety program for this industry group help your business
The guidelines that were developed for this industry recommend realistic procedures to develop methods for identifying potential hazards in the work environment, ultimately reflecting in increased productivity and to protect those working in the performance industry. Safe practice in a safe environment makes for an efficient operation and is cost effective both in human and economic terms.
What you can do
The Ministry of Labour has established some responsibilities and duties that may apply to workers and/or producers who may be employers, constructors or supervisors under the Act. These include:
- Executive Producer / Producer(s)
- Production Manager / Unit Production Manager
- Director of Photography
- First Assistant Director
- Location Manager
- Department Heads
- Worker / Contractor / Freelancer
- Health and Safety Committee Representative
- Crew Health and Safety Representative
Each of these persons has specific responsibilities that may include (but not limited to):
- Complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and Regulations
- Ensuring accidents are reported
- Providing and maintaining first aid supplies and services
- Ensuring that workers, producers and others have access to and are aware of the Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry in Ontario
- Letting workers and contractors know about potential hazards and how to avoid them as well as encouraging and reporting any hazards that they identify
- Ensuring workers and contractors have the appropriate training prior to work commencing
- Scheduling stunts and special effects in consideration of days and hours already worked, turnaround, etc.
- Requiring that any necessary safety equipment and protective devices are being used or worn
- Observing fire safety requirements and informing the appropriate fire department and other authorities as required of open flame or pyrotechnic effects
- Providing safety information such as emergency phone numbers, emergency personnel on set, the location of emergency equipment (fire safety equipment, first aid, etc) on set
Contact your health and safety association for assistance in developing a new health and safety program or for advice on improving the program you currently have in place.