While filmmaking is an exciting experience, it is important to be mindful of safety procedures, lest someone suffer an injury that could injure people and the film's budget. With this in mind, let’s highlight five common health hazards to avoid while filming.
The floor of any set or shooting location can be littered with a variety of potential hazards, leading to slips and falls. Most of the time you can escape a fall with bumps and bruises, but common freak accidents can cause concussion, broken bones, and in the worst-case scenario, an injured spinal cord.
Someone should always be present to stabilize a ladder and ensure that the person climbing the ladder is safe from falling. If working around slick surfaces, such as a port or a soundstage designed to mimic a ship's deck, make sure that all cast and crew have suitable footwear and off-camera signage has been placed to indicate potential for a slip and fall.
With the frequent instances where crew or equipment are elevated above people's heads, everyone should be mindful of them. This advice not only extends to cameramen positioned atop ladders for certain shots, but also being mindful of the potential injury from walking into a c stand or a gobo arm.
When working long hours under the heat of direct sunlight or close to set lights, it is imperative that all cast and crew remain hydrated, ideally with drinks reputed to restore electrolytes. Conditions like heat exhaustion can sneak up on people, usually leaving that person as the last one to realize they have succumbed to the condition. Even the case of one crew member's fainting spell from overheating carries the risk of dropping valuable equipment or injuring others on set.
Some equipment can become incredibly hot, resulting in serious burns to the crew handling it. Requiring heat-treated gloves to be worn will prevent burns while also minimizing the chance of pinching injuries.
Because a person's hunger can affect their mood, including your actors' performances, it is important to keep cast and crew fed during long shoots.
What Can I Do About It?
Filmmaking is hard enough without shuttling cast and crew with debilitating injuries, or threatening the production with a lawsuit. Assign a member of the crew as the safety officer supervisor, and give them sufficient authority to pull the plug on dangerous stunts or mitigate hazardous conditions. If budget allows for it, have an on-set medic to monitor the condition of cast and crew, and tend to first aid if it becomes necessary. Producers and directors are under intense pressure to get scenes shot on schedule, and under budget - but that’s exactly why safety needs to be your first concern.
While it is important for a filmmaker to maintain his or her vision, it is also important that cast and crew can safely collaborate on that goal. Keep your cast and crew properly fed and hydrated, be mindful of hot objects or slick surfaces and make sure that everyone's spatial awareness includes the space above their heads. Following these tips should do wonders for a safe and effective shooting schedule.