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.
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.
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