10th October 2016
Of all the professions that involve the risk of injury as a result of a fall that of a television or film stunt man probably ranks amongst the most hazardous. Whilst most professions take precautions to remove or reduce the risk of falling, for a stuntman a fall from height is frequently part and parcel of the job and measures to actually ‘prevent’ a fall may not be applicable. Rather, the protection that they employ is directed towards minimising the potential harm that they may suffer from falling in hazardous circumstances. In this article, we look at three of the most popular types of fall protection used in the stunt industry.
Types of Fall-Protection
Inflatable Stunt Bags – The most commonly used type of Fall-Protection by stunt men is the inflatable stunt bag. These are designed to cushion a stunt man against accidental and staged falls from heights. When the bags are inflated they provide a soft, cushioned landing, which cradles the impact of the fall. Importantly, the bags are designed and constructed in such a way as to prevent the stunt man from bouncing after landing, thus guarding against the risk of secondary impact damage. The bags are also able to “reset” immediately after impact, enabling two or more stunt men to cushion their falls in rapid succession. Equally, more than one stunt man can land on the bag simultaneously. Inflatable air bagscan be calibrated to a range of different pressures, making the landing softer or firmer according to the stunt man’s particular requirements. They are also extremely versatile, being available in a range of different shapes and sizes, allowing them to be used in the tightest of locations.
Ideally suitable where the risk of injury is from a fall from a lesser height, crash mats are typically made from high density polyurethane foam, which offers optimum fall cushioning. They are normally covered with a vinyl casing and are easily portable. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and different thickness, according to the degree of cushioning required. They are also easily transportable, enabling them to be moved around various locations on the filming site.
Unlike inflatable bags and crash mats, stunt harnesses are intended to prevent the stunt man from falling to the ground altogether. They are designed to afford the highest degree of protection to the body of the stuntman whilst at the same time halting or slowing down a fall. There are a variety of different types of full harness, including full-body, jerk, hangman, fly, ankle, wrist and cartwheel harnesses.
Although they are highly skilled in their field, stunt men are no less susceptible to injury as a result of falling from a height than the next person. Indeed, because working at height is such a common part of the profession, they are more frequently at risk of such an occurrence. Soft fall units like the ones manufactured by Fall-Pac are highly versatile and well-designed, able to reduce the impact of falls and landings. Great fall protection keeps stunt men as safe as possible while allowing them to create stunning scenes and exciting stunts to wow the world!