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  • toby wray

Video Tips For Marketeers #17 Film Set Health and Safety Part 1

What Are My Responsibilities?

It’s very easy to take risks when filming. People become focussed on a shot, time is running out, the pressure’s on before you know it the camera op is walking backwards in a dark area full of cables and no-one’s watching their step. If anyone asks who is responsible for Health and Safety the answer is everyone. Overall the producer is liable legally so be clear who that is and ensure they at least attempt to oversee or delegate safety when filming.

Risk assessments

The starting point is to fill in a risk assessment form which will prove that you have thought consciously about what areas you could ensure safety in (there are lots of templates online). If any accident occurs and you cannot show you took every precaution possible, it may invalidate your insurance (you did take out insurance didn’t you?) and you may be liable. It may be a good idea to also keep a record of emergency contact numbers and details of any relevant special needs/medication for everyone involved in the production so they are easily to hand in case of an accident.

It is essential to identify each significant hazard before considering how the associated risk should be controlled. In order to do this effectively it is necessary to consider each part of the intended action and answer the question; “What could go wrong?” or “What could happen, other than what is planned?” This is often called the “What if?” question: What if a rope breaks, what if someone trips etc?

A risk assessment should take into account a number of factors:

  • How likely is it that something will go wrong?

  • If it did go wrong, how serious would the consequences be?

  • How often does the risk arise?

  • How many people could be affected?

  • What does the law require?

A great resource for risk assessments and advice can be found on the BBC Health and Safety web site

Knowing the risks

Caution must be used, even in the least hazardous areas. Consider the following, which could be found if filming in your kitchen:

  • Cables (trip hazard – tape them down)

  • Lights (temporary blindness leading to tripping)

  • Electricity and water

  • Sharp edges, heat

  • People distracted by the task of filming.

Other hazards could come from the environment you are in, specifically the weather or heights. In many cases identifying the risks and appropriate precautions may not be as straightforward. It may be useful to get people involved in different areas of the project to fill in a risk assessment form as they may spot different types of risks. When risks have been identified, their significance can be evaluated and appropriate precautions formulated to eliminate or control them. Remember, it is always better to eliminate a risk than attempt to control it.

Insurance This will provide some cover should you take reasonable measures and still have an accident. You may already have insurance through the personal liability part of some other insurance, or from an insurance policy your organisation holds. You could also buy specialist filming insurance, although this may be expensive. Film insurance is highly specialised with each production carrying different risks. The types of insurance needed and level of premium vary from project to project. At its most basic, insurance is generally needed to cover sickness, accident, death (of crew, cast etc.), physical loss and damage to equipment and assets, employers and public liability. A few types of insurance you may need to be aware of are Public Liability (some companies will not allow you to film without it), Negative insurance to cover loss of your footage and cover for your or hired in equipment.

Next week; Part 2 - Practical steps

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