Shooting for safety on motion picture and TV sets

Workers in the motion picture and TV industry share their experiences about COVID-19 safety solutions on set. 

Photo of crew member working on TV set and wearing non medical face mask.

Photo credit: © WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation
Board of B.C.), used with permission

As I write this post, the motion picture and TV industry has been up and running again for just over two months, after a six-month shut down due to COVID-19. Since the restart, I’ve heard a lot of stories from people in that industry about how their workplaces have changed, based on practices the industry feels it should put in place.

One B.C. camera operator told me about the new role introduced on his set: a COVID-19 compliance officer. “They have the ultimate say,” says the camera operator. “They’re designated to ensure people are abiding by safety protocols.”

Some productions have implemented this COVID-19 compliance officer position to ensure cast and crew are following the production’s COVID-19 Safety Plan. For example, they make sure people are keeping appropriate physical distances, washing their hands, and wearing masks when physical distancing isn’t possible.

The camera operator gets a COVID-19 test every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He adds: “Everyone wears a mask unless they’re eating. Hand sanitizing and wash stations are all over set and near food trucks. Other than that, it seems pretty normal to me.”

I also heard about a young worker who recently started a job in which she spends her entire shift disinfecting surfaces.

Daily heath checks are now mandatory for all workers before they enter the workplace, and a recently hired worker told me about the online health questionnaire she fills out before going to work. She says: “Things take a lot longer because of testing and set-ups, but I’m grateful for the work. On my first day, my orientation included a 90-minute COVID-19 training session.”

Training workers on pandemic policies and procedures

Training on new safety policies and procedures is essential. To support this, Actsafe Safety Association launched a COVID-19 Safety Procedures Course. It’s free and takes 30 minutes to complete online.

“It informs workers about reporting for work, including where to find the proper reporting procedures if they’re feeling sick. It covers symptoms, physical distancing, isolation, disinfection, and other measures from the context of a motion picture production workplace,” says Anand Kanna, Actsafe’s Manager of Motion Picture Programs and Services.

The course is one way that employers can help fulfill their obligation to inform their workers about COVID-19 safety procedures on set. Employers still need to cover the specifics of their own plan, but this course is an optional starting point.

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