Responsibility for Health and Safety in Film and Television Making

Film and Television, with regards health and safety, in many parts of the world has developed a lot in the last 20 years after some quite nasty accidents in the 1980’s. However there can still be a belief that “safety” doesn’t apply to creative industry or a belief that the industry can manage without safety skills.

There has been more focus on these industries by enforcement agencies in recent years and the industries themselves have developed a strong safety industry and techniques – if people know where to find them.


Responsibility is as always defined by law – Film and TV may use different job titles but the key responsibilities remain.

Employer – Production Company:

As with any employer the Production Company is responsible for the overall safety of any film or TV project. They require the same basic health and safety procedures as any industry. This Production companies should have:

A basic safety policy in place
A method of managing safety – including clear responsibilities for key staff
Adequate funds for the project allowing it to be made safely
Methods of risk assessment and systems to ensure risk assessments are completed, acted upon and distributed
Access to safety advice.

Executive and Senior Producers;

These roles usually have overall responsibility for safety on their Productions – they effectively represent the Production Company – although they may often get a Production Manager to do the work.

But in simple terms the Executive Producer is responsible for ensuring safety is fully managed, that risk assessments are done, that contractors are competent for the work and that safety is considered at all stages of the project.


The Producer on the ground/location – can in general terms be assumed to be responsible for the day to day safety of that filming activity.

Production Managers

The job title can be different depending on country, industry and type of Production. But in general terms the PM/Line Producer has responsibility delegated by the Executive Producer – they do the day to day management of safety – ensuring budgets are adequate, that a risk assessment is complete, that staff are trained, that contractors are competent, that contractors provide their own RA and that safety issues are managed effectively.

1st AD:

This job role is mainly present in large Dramas, Films – the same role in all but name can be undertaken by the Floor Manager in Studio – or by a Producer in Reality type filming.

The 1st AD is responsible for the safety on set/studio – they ensure the safety of the day to day filming – both in terms of the creative on screen safety but also the safety of the crew during filming.

They effectively manage the set.


Contractors as always are responsible for ensuring they provide a competent service and safe equipment – this is no different from any other industry bar the work can be somewhat different and unique.

Health and Safety Consultants:

The industry uses more safety consultants than ever before. It’s important you recognise that having a safety consultant does not remove any duties from other people – the safety consultant should help you achieve them and you can delegate specific duties to them but the basic responsibilities will never go away.

Chris Elliott is a long established Health and Safety Consultant working in the film and TV industry; working across Drama, Entertainment, Factual Reality TV and News in. TV and also on a variety of film projects – he’s also been involved in writing HSE guidance for the creative industry. He brings industry knowledge and methods for managing safety in the creative industries – meeting safety needs but allowing the production needs to be met in whatever form they may take

Advantages and Disadvantages of Accredited Health and Safety Training

When it comes to health and safety training, one of the issues that needs to be considered is whether you and/or your employees require an accredited or non-accredited training course. As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages of each.

Course syllabus content

Accredited health and safety training courses such as the NEBOSH Certificates (General, Construction, Fire and Environmental), ConstructionSkills (SMSTS and SSSTS), IOSH (Managing, Working, Directing Safely) etc all have specific syllabuses which need to be followed in order to satisfy the assessment criteria. This means that there may be large sections which are irrelevant for different people on the course and their particular job role, which could lead to delegates becoming bored and “switching off”. This might not be a problem for the part that isn’t relevant to them, but if they do not “re-engage” when relevant information is being taught, they run the risk of potentially missing crucial information. There is also a danger of distracting others on the course who do need to understand what is being taught.

Unlike accredited courses which, as mentioned above have to follow specific syllabuses, those that are not accredited can be tailored to an organisation’s specific workplace hazards and working practices. This means that the subject matter is likely to be much more relevant to those attending. A non-accredited course can even incorporate the organisation’s health and safety policy and emergency procedures into the taught subject matter.

They may not be tailored, but don’t forget the status

An advantage of an accredited health and safety training course is that only the providers who have been pre-approved by the relevant awarding body are allowed to deliver their respective courses. This allows for greater peace of mind (extremely important when parting with a large amount of money!), as teaching standards have been assessed as meeting a certain standard and pass rates are consistently good.

The fact that syllabuses are consistent and exams the same across providers, it means that those who have acquired the qualification can be regarded as having a high level of competency and health and safety knowledge as they have passed the required assessment, whereas a non-accredited qualification could have been awarded to somebody after attending a course which is far too easy and, more pertinently, does not provide the knowledge necessary for working safely or managing others back in the workplace. Just because somebody has a nice looking certificate does not mean they could perform their role to the necessary requirement back in the workplace if they do not have the sufficient knowledge to go with it. Those with a genuine certificate from a recognised and well-respected awarding body can prove to others that they have this knowledge just by showing the certificate.

But this status can come at a price. For those undertaking accredited health and safety training, there is often a large amount of course material and hefty textbooks which are incorporated into the course price or have to be bought as an added extra, as well as exam registration and official certification fees. There can also be long waits to receive exam results and certificates after completing an accredited course, which can be particularly frustrating for those who require the qualification before starting or applying for jobs.


So in conclusion, neither accredited or non-accredited training can be defined as “better”, as it’s suitability will depend not only on the requirements of the person or company requiring the training, but also on the quality of the training provider who is delivering the course