HALIFAX (Canadian OH&S News)
Workers in Nova Scotia who spend their days on fire, dodging bullets and plummeting from the tops of buildings to their certain doom now have a guide to help ensure they will not actually be burned, shot or compressed into the sidewalk.
Film Nova Scotia has released the first edition of the Health and Safety Guidelines for the Nova Scotia Screen Based Production Industry last week that serves as a manual for best practices in all facets of film production, while adhering to the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations.
“Ultimately the [OHSA] prevails of course, but we did look at best practices across the country in terms of techniques and practices, but always with a mind to make sure we were in line with Nova Scotia legislation,” says Linda Wood, director of business and legal affairs at the Halifax-based Film Nova Scotia.
Beginning in December of last year, the guide was developed in co-operation with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education and representatives from various film organizations across the East Coast, including the Maritime branch of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, stage employee unions and the Atlantic arm of the Directors Guild of Canada.
“There are so many different components and players in the industry, it’s really difficult to get everyone around the table, to come together and devote the time and the resources and bring in the expertise to update the documents. We all made it a priority over the last six months to put the work in,” Wood says.
As an example of how vast the ground covered by the guide is, its 97 pages contain information on carpentry, rigging, ladders and scaffolding, camera cranes and mobile elevated work platforms, electrical safety, hazardous products like paints, glues, solvents and stains, trailers and temporary wardrobe units, camera cars, firearms and explosives, animal handling, skydiving, helicopters, aircraft and underwater work.
Some specific examples include wigs, when used near fire, should be able to be quickly removed and coated in a fire-retardant gel, and the air bags that catch actors after leaps from great heights should be tested at the same height as the proposed scene and at a weight of equal or greater than the person who has to fall into it.
Guidelines considered a “living document”
“It’s a very, very safe industry. Thankfully there haven’t been any major issues with safety on sets and having these guidelines will ensure that continues to be the case,” Wood says, adding that although the guide has been put out to the public, the committee considers it a “living document” and will be able to respond to any legislative or regulative changes that come up.
The guidelines are being released just as the province’s high season for filming starts, which usually runs from early spring and into October, Wood says.
“As Nova Scotia producers, we are extremely happy to have updated guidelines that reflect the latest protocols in safety practices,” David MacLeod, executive producer at Big Motion Pictures in Chester, Nova Scotia, says in a news release.
The full guide can be found at www.gov.ns.ca/lae/healthandsafety/docs/SafetyGuidelinesNSFilmProduction.pdf.