The Local Entertainment Industry
Vancouver’s entertainment industry saw over 450 productions last year and generated close to $3.4 billion for the local economy. This figure represents a considerable increase from $2.3 billion in 2017. Furthermore, the industry provided jobs for over 60,000 people. BC’s film industry is home to more than 200 producers and over 250 businesses that primarily cater to motion picture production. Prem Gill, CEO of Creative BC, stated that film companies within BC are “delivering the world’s highest quality content” thanks to world-class talent, industry-leading skills, and substantial infrastructure. Thus, it’s evident that the entertainment industry is no small component of BC’s economy. Considering the great value that it contributes; do we think about the safety of those workers behind the scenes enough?
Safety In Entertainment
Safety in the entertainment industry is a topic that is not addressed frequently. Even discussed less often, is lone worker safety in this sector. When we think of industries who employ lone workers, electrical, water, mining, forestry, or construction companies may come to mind. In addition to invoking several unique safety hazards, the film and entertainment industry also requires many workers to either work alone or in a remote location.
Jobs in film that require employees to work alone more frequently include production assistants, security guards, drivers, and flaggers. Working in isolation can have potentially life-threatening consequences if a worker experiences a threat or emergency, and no one is around to help. We must consider the safety hazards that those workers face, as well as methods to mitigate their risks.
Remote or isolated locations magnify the risk for lone workers because they may be inaccessible or located far away from the closest available help. This is a particularly high concern for location Scouters and greensperson. These employees are often required to travel to far-away locations that only have one road in and out. Employing lone workers who work remotely is a considerable risk for film companies because if something goes wrong, not only is the employee alone, but they are also far away from anyone who could help in an emergency. British Columbia’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations notes that it is an employer’s responsibility for developing and setting motion procedures and protocols that serve to protect their lone workers.
Managerial requirements for entertainment companies require that specific steps be taken before a worker is deployed to a remote location or to fulfill a lone worker role. First, hazards and risks must be identified and assessed. You can learn more about common workplace hazards here. Next, any hazards that have been identified must be either eliminated or minimized. Workers must be educated on any dangers that prevail. Training employees on how to control and mitigate their own individual risk and exposure is essential. Next, entertainment companies are required to implement procedures to monitor and check-on lone workers. Lastly, all procedures and protocols must be regularly reviewed and improved upon where deemed necessary.
Whose Responsibility is Safety?
Responsibilities vary among employers, supervisors, and employees within the entertainment industry. First and foremost, an employer must identify possible dangers and implement methods to mitigate or eliminate them. In the film industry, employers may be producers, production companies, or subcontractors. Employers must ensure that both supervisors and employees are aware and up to date on all safety procedures and risks in their respective workplaces. Employers should also be readily available to respond if a hazard arises or if an accident occurs. If there is an incident, it’s essential that the incident is investigated to prevent a similar incident in the future.
Supervisors could be directors, assistant directors, managers, crew chiefs, stunt coordinators, department heads, or anyone else who is in a position to direct employees. These staff members are required to complete training when necessary, as well as monitor and control hazards in the workplace. Supervisors should also make sure that employees are aware, trained, and prepared.
Lastly, safety in the workplace is also an employee’s duty. Crew, performers, technicians, stunt actors, and all other production support roles will be classified as workers in the entertainment industry. In addition to participating in training programs, workers should always keep their eyes open for potential hazards that could compromise their safety or the safety of their co-workers. If an employee does not know how to perform a task safely, they should consult a supervisor. Employees should also communicate to supervisors whenever they will be required to work alone or remotely.
Actsafe Safety Association is the health and safety organization that supports British Columbia’s arts and entertainment industry by providing training, resources, and advisory services. They define working alone as any instance where an employee is “working in circumstances where assistance would not be readily available to the worker in case of an emergency, or in case the worker is injured or in ill health.” Actsafe provides many useful resources for entertainment companies that employ lone workers.
SafetyLine will be attending and speaking at the ActSafe Entertainment Safety Conference on March 6, 2020, to address understanding provincial work alone legislation, how to write an effective safety procedure, and how using technology can help support your company’s safety program. The conference will be held at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, BC. More information can be found on the ActSafe website.
We would now like to further discuss the steps that a company should take to cultivate a positive safety culture for their lone workers.
Identify the Risks and Assess their Magnitude
A lone worker’s hazard may be magnified if they are required to work in extremely cold or hot conditions with electricity, with machinery, in a high-crime area, work very far away from other employees or medical attention, or work at heights. It’s important that not only location but the type of task is considered when identifying hazards. Any pertinent findings should be recorded and communicated to employees.
Mitigating the Hazards
If PP&E would help protect workers, then it should always be worn. Other ways to control your company and people’s risk is to make positive changes to the workplace environment. This may include installing warning signs, handrails, or improved ventilation. Furthermore, minimizing the amount of time that an employee is required to spend alone is an effective way of controlling their individual risk. An even more comprehensive solution is the implementation of a lone worker monitoring software. A lone worker monitoring solution like SafetyLine is the best way to protect your lone workers. You can learn about how a lone worker solution will benefit your organization here.
Your company may have the best safety procedures in the business, but if workers are not educated on how to abide by them then they are useless. Health and safety information should be communicated to workers regularly. This can be done via orientation and training, meetings, safety talks, or in newsletters and memos.
Implement a Check-In Program
Companies should not rely on an employee’s ability to call for help, to call for help. With SafetyLine’s mobile app, regular check-in timers allow employers to confirm their safety throughout their shift. If a worker misses a check-in, your company will immediately know that something is wrong and be able to respond quickly. Check-in intervals are easily changeable and can be adjusted according to the danger level. For instance, if a lone worker is working in a high-crime area, they can shorten their check-in intervals which will require them to confirm their safety more frequently. Some organizations may rely on a call-center to manually check-in with lone employees. Although this is better than nothing, it is not fail-proof. Having an automated check-in procedure will ensure the safety of your people on the job. You can learn more about the benefits of a check-in procedure here.
Assess and Adjust
Safety procedures should be constantly adjusted and improved to suit the needs of an organization. Companies must evaluate the effectiveness of their protocols and make improvements where necessary to protect their people.
Just like every other industry that employs lone workers, the entertainment industry must take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of its workforce. Conducting regular hazards assessments, educating workers of the dangers, and implementing a lone worker monitoring solution will allow companies to ensure the safety of their people.