29th September 2017
Whilst it is all too evident that fall protection measures need to be taken in industries such as construction, roofing and tree surgery, there are other types of occupation where working at height presents a risk of falling and gives rise to the need for fall protection measures to be implemented. One of those occupations is the film industry.
The risk of falling from a height can affect many of those who are on a film set or are filming on location. The actors and actresses and/or their stunt doubles must have adequate fall protection, as should those responsible for constructing sets at height, the camera crew, sound technicians and lighting engineers. In fact, virtually all the personnel who are involved in the filming of a production at a height may find themselves to be at risk of falling and requiring fall protection.
Types of Fall Protection in the Film Industry
It is essential, whenever a member of the cast, crew or production team is to be working at height, to carry out a thorough appraisal of the risk involved and to implement fall protection measures. When acting at a height, constructing or dismantling sets, stages and light and sound systems the types of fall protection that should be considered are:
- Guard Rails – The use of secure guard rails can prevent a film worker from falling from the edge of an elevated structure or surface. The guard rails should be of a sufficient height to ensure that the worker cannot fall over them.
- Securing of Ladders and Scaffolding – Where work is to be carried out on ladders or temporary scaffolding, these need to be secured, by tying down, to ensure that they do not move and cause the worker to fall. Ladders should only be used on firm, level surfaces. These types of precaution are a particularly requirement for set workers and lighting and sound engineers.
- Anchorage – Anchoring the film worker securely, by a wire rope or synthetic sling, will also provide fall protection by preventing a fall completely or limiting the distance of the fall.
- Body Harness – A body harness can prevent a vertical fall by a film worker and can also reduce the physical harm sustained if the worker does fall and has to be suspended by the harness.
- Safety Nets – Safety nets, whilst not preventing falls, can protect a film worker from the injuries that would otherwise be caused by falling from a height onto a hard surface.
- Fall Cushioning Materials – There are a range of fall protection products that can shield a film worker from the effects of a fall. There are especially suitable for limited spaces where there is insufficient room to erect a safety net.
Depending on the nature of the particular production, working in the film industry can involve working at a height which, if a fall occurs, can be hazardous. A suitable risk assessment before set construction and filming should identify the degree and nature of any risk involved and which of the above types of fall protection measure should be implemented to protect the film workers.