Improving safety for the TV and motion picture industry

B.C. workers in the film industry will have to take Actsafe’s general safety awareness course by March 31, 2024. 

Movie or TV production truck line a city street.

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Recently, I learned that Actsafe’s Motion Picture General Safety Awareness course will be mandatory for all workers in the motion picture industry. Everyone is required to complete it by March 31, 2024.

To find out more about how the course came to be mandatory, I spoke with Natalli Dias, Actsafe safety advisor. She told me the B.C. Council of Film Unions made the decision. (For more information, see clause 12.7 of BCCFU’s Master Agreement.)

“Actsafe is really excited about this safety course,” Natalli says. “The course gives workers a basic understanding of safety on set and common hazards that they may encounter.”

This online course is free and takes about five hours to complete. Topics include general safety awareness, rights and responsibilities, joint health and safety committees, workplace hazards, and more.

Designed with a SimCity video game theme, the course covers a series of work environments common to the motion picture and television industry. It includes production offices, studios, city streets, and wilderness areas.

Natalli says this gives people an understanding of the hazards in their own work, and some of the hazards they might be exposed to in other departments.

Violence in the workplace, biological hazards, electrical hazards, and working with (or near) power tools are just a few of the topics covered.

Safety awareness for all experience levels

The course is intended for those who need to refresh their knowledge as well as those just starting out in the industry.

I asked a friend of mine who has been working as a lighting technician for nearly 20 years how he felt about the course being mandatory.

“I’m fine with taking it myself. I will always prefer that people be aware of risks,” he says, adding that he hasn’t taken it yet. “It’s free, online, and can be taken in fits and spurts rather than doing the full five hours in one shot.”

Then I spoke with another friend, who has already taken the course. She’s just starting out in the industry, as a production assistant.

“I learned a lot,” she said. “The health and safety terminology is important for being on set. For someone with no knowledge of film set etiquette, it’s definitely helpful.”

Actsafe will release a new, more accessible version of the course early in 2023.

“One of Actsafe’s core values is accessibility, and we believe in no excuses to help workers understand the basics of safety,” Natalli says.

The new version helps people with vision, hearing, and neurodiverse disabilities. It includes closed captioning, which works with the screen readers and was designed to use colours that workers with colour blindness can perceive, with keyboard shortcuts for those unable to use a mouse.

Thank you to Natalli – and my two friends – for speaking with me. For more information, see WorkSafeBC’s resources for the motion picture industry.

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