Saturday, 6 November 2010

Research - Health and Safety

This covers health and safety responsibilities, information on legislation, and the different Health and Safety roles within the film industry.

Under health and safety legislation, the ultimate responsibility for health and safety lies with the employer involved and the organisations in control of premises and facilities. In the film industry this may be the investor/client, producer, production company, contractor, designer, supplier, facilities company or studio.

The underlying need is for every employer to establish appropriate organisational structures that support risk control and place health and safety alongside editorial and/or dramatic considerations. It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that employees are competent to carry out work safely. In order to do this they must produce a Health and Safety Policy in the form of a Production Safety Plan, which details all health and safety arrangements for the company or production. All employers and employees are also encouraged to be aware of health and safety risks, and risk assessments should be carried out regularly in all departments.

All occupations have a health and safety element attached to them. The Health and Safety at Work Act l974 places a duty on the employer, and employees, to work in a safe manner. In the film industry this is particularly important given the unusual applications and substances that are put to use in the industry, and in roles such as Grip, Crane Operator, Pyrotechnics or Special Effects Technician, Set Construction, Scenery/Property Handling and Stunt Artist.

Everyone involved with a production is responsible for ensuring health and safety standards for their own activities. Where the client/producer delegates performance of key stages of the production to suitably competent individuals, eg set design and build, or rigging, these people are responsible for ensuring that the health and safety standards are met for their delegated tasks.

To comply with health and safety legislation, employers are required to appoint one or more competent persons to assist them in meeting their legal duties. This does not mean that a specialist health and safety advisor or consultant is required for all productions; in some cases an experienced, competent person within the production will be better suited to the role.

Companies who have invested time and resources into training and developing effective safety management systems are more likely to be able to delegate safety responsibility to a suitable person within a team. In some cases where specialist or external advice is required on safety grounds, a suitably qualified expert in a particular discipline is employed, e.g. in rock climbing.

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