If you are an entertainment industry worker and have sustained a work-related injury while on set, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Film Set Safety in the News
Film set safety concerns have been a hot topic in the media as of late.
After months at home due to the pandemic, studios were eager to make up for the lost time when employees returned to work. The rush to produce new content made already strenuous working conditions worse for entertainment industry crewmembers. This led to threats from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). IATSE explained that members would strike if employers did not meet their requests for better working conditions. This size strike would have shut down the entire United States TV and movie industry. However, on October 16, IATSE and studios reached a preliminary agreement.
Shortly after, on October 21, actor Alec Baldwin misfired a gun while rehearsing for an upcoming movie, “Rust.” This misfiring killed the film’s cinematographer and wounded the film’s director. Before firing the gun, Baldwin was told it contained no live rounds.
This fatal accident occurred the day after six members of the “Rust” camera crew resigned. Their resignation letters pointed to factors including a lack of hotel accommodations and late paychecks. Resignations were not the only problem on set. Allegedly other misfires had occurred previous to the fatal October 21 incident. Reports explain the set was very disorganized – this factor and lack of safety meetings alarmed crewmembers.
Given Baldwin’s notoriety, this incident has led to a flood of media reports regarding safety concerns within the entertainment industry. But, “Rust” is not the only production of recent times that has seen injuries and, in some instances, deaths.
According to The Associated Press, from 1990 to 2014, there were at least 194 severe film and TV accidents and at least 43 fatalities in the United States.
Fortunately, there are steps employers and employees can take to avoid common on-set injuries.
Common Set Injuries & How to Prevent Them
When we think of movies, TV shows, and even commercials, we often don’t picture the work that goes on behind the scenes. Most productions require electricians, teamsters, seamstresses, hairstylists, makeup artists, cinematographers, sound and video engineers, stunt performers – the list goes on and on.
With so many simultaneous operations, injuries seem inevitable. But, set crews can take preventive steps to prevent such accidents from occurring.
Below are some of the most common on-set injuries and some recommendations for preventing them:
- Cables and wires – With all of the equipment used to produce a movie, TV show, or commercial, most sets require many cables and wires to run smoothly. To prevent falls and trips, purchase and install cable covers and keep high-frequency neat and well-lit.
- Pyrotechnics – Many productions incorporate special effects, such as pyrotechnics. Before using pyrotechnics, clear all fire exits of obstructions and show employees where emergency exits are located. If necessary, notify the fire department of the use of pyrotechnics and ensure they are on standby if an emergency arises.
- Improper Use of Electricity– The filming of movies, TV shows, and commercials often requires a lot of lighting. This may cause circuits to overload. Overloaded circuits are dangerous and can cause electrocution or fires. There should always be someone on set, such as an electrician, familiar with electricity best practices.
- Props – Depending on the scene, props can include anything from fake vehicles and weapons to household objects and decorations. To prevent accidents, give actors ample time to practice with any props their scenes require. Assign one individual the task of prop creation and maintenance. Create a policy that requires employees to report damage to props immediately. Before employees handle a prop, inform them of any potential hazards use of the prop may create.
Injured on Set? We Can Help.
Keches Law Group supports organized labor and fights for injured union members.
Ironworkers, nurses, plumbers, electricians, and hundreds of other hard-working laborers have trusted us to get the job done for good reason: we know first-hand what it’s like to be hurt on the job. Our managing partner, Sean Flaherty, was a 3rd generation Local 7 ironworker who suffered a work injury in 2000 that propelled him into his career in law due to the injustices he experienced.
If you are an entertainment industry worker and have sustained a work-related injury while on set, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Contact us today for a free consultation.