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Back to Basics: Safety on Set

Production is pretty dangerous. I can’t even count the times I’ve been shocked, cut, burned, or otherwise injured while on the job (don’t tell HR, I hate forms). But that’s the nature of my chosen profession: lots of metal equipment, enormous lights meant to mimic the Sun, and an electrical backend that could charge an iPad the size of Rhode Island.

Thankfully, I haven’t personally known anyone to die from a production accident. The same cannot be said for many of my colleagues. On-set safety is everyone’s responsibility – so it’s also your responsibility to not make things more dangerous than they already are.

With that in mind, here are a few basic things I’ve seen a lot of people screw up. So pay attention and don’t do something that might kill somebody.

Especially me.

 

Have a First Aid Kit (or Person)

Most productions have a medic standing by, at all times, just in case something happens. I know you dirty film kids can’t afford that. But what you CAN afford is a first aid kit. Bandages, burn treatments, that kind of stuff – there’s no reason not to have one on every set.

I’d also recommend some clotting powder, which is amazing at stopping bleeding (I know firsthand). It basically mixes with the blood to instantly form a temporary scab that stops the bleeding. This is the brand I’ve used before.

 

Follow Equipment Safety Warnings

It may sound basic and stupid, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people doing things with equipment that are clearly against the safety warning written on the side of the equipment. Those aren’t there for no reason. Like lifts: when using a lift to reach a lighting grid, use the outriggers. They are not optional. I personally know more than one person who’s had a serious head injury from a falling lift – and with something this big, you’re endangering not just yourself, but everyone else on set.

See those spider legs? Those are outriggers. If they’re absent, don’t use the lift.

 

Don’t Touch Bulbs

Or lamps, as they’re called by uppity lighting people. Anyway, if you touch a bulb with your bare hands, you leave oil on it. That oil heats up when the light is turned on, and can “shorten lamp life.” What that also means is the bulb can explode. Know what’s not awesome? Getting showered by burning-hot glass shards.

So just wear gloves or use the bulb’s packaging to handle it. And obviously this only applies to hot lights, not Kino’s or LED’s.

 

Secure Everything

Every single thing that hangs above people needs to be secured with AT LEAST both a clamp and a safety line. My normal process: once I’ve secured a light/flag/whatever, I look over my work while imagining what it would feel like to have said object fall on my head from 50 feet up.

 

Dress Your Cables

This is the most basic thing that nobody does. An improperly dressed cable is an injury waiting to happen.  I don’t care where it is or how far out of the walk paths – tape it down. And if it’s in a walk path, tape it down and then put stripes of contrasting tape on it for higher visibility.

 

Last, But Not Least…Be Responsible

On big-budget sets, there are tons of people with very specific jobs. They’ve been doing them for years, and in many cases have special training/certification for what they do.

Small sets don’t have this. And nowadays, it’s more and more common for less people to be expected to handle more duties. Less specialization = less experience = everyone dies.

OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but you get my meaning. Ultimately, you and your crew are responsible for everything that happens on set. Work carefully, think through what you’re doing, and everything will be fine.

 

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Christian

    They never mentioned having a first aid kit or person back in school, so I guess I don’t usually think about it when I do a shoot. This definitely made me think twice bout future shoots, I’ll for sure invest in at least a travel kit now. Props on this article.

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