The Mark Milsome Foundation - Film and TV Online Safety Passport Course

10 videos, 1 hour and 14 minutes

Course Content

Health and Safety Abroad

Video 8 of 10
4 min 41 sec
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You need to be alert to issues of risk when working outside of the UK. Crew need to monitor themselves and to speak up, refusing to work if necessary until issues are resolved. These issues might be an abuse of working hours, of conditions, catering, exposure to extreme temperatures, illness, toilet facilities, hotels or transport.

UK productions most commonly employ a local service company to physically arrange the foreign shoot based on local knowledge, contacts, understanding of the country, the people, the culture. UK producers should heighten their instincts relating to safety when shooting abroad, questioning and checking decisions made by the local production company relating to the experience of local crew, schedules, crew expertise, cost cutting etc making sure standards are in keeping with the UK.

Most shoot days or prep days start with crew boarding a bus to be taken on a scout or to location. This is the first opportunity you have to assess how highly the local production values your safety. If you don’t feel your driver is safe or experienced enough, if they appear too tired then speak up. If no one values your safety getting to set how can you expect them to value it once you start work?

Crew should demand that Health and Safety abroad is at the same level or higher than it is in the UK. Ask The UK production company who is in charge of Health and Safety’ before you sign up for the job. Feel free to request a Health and Safety document from the local service company setting out their Health and Safety standards. Keep the document incase the reality does not live up to the promise once you arrive on location. Ask for the same level of reassurance relating to hours worked and overtime.     

The nature of being in a foreign country for a fixed schedule means that delays will result in additional accommodation costs and re scheduling of flights so there is a more pressing need for productions to make the day, get our of the country and fly home on schedule. Some productions are shooting in a foreign location to honour the script locations but many decide to shoot abroad to employ cheaper crew and save money, this suggests that from day one,  saving money is a priority.

Think ahead about potential problems and be prepared. Review your weather gear before travelling to a cold climate, stay hydrated whilst working, tics and lymes disease is becoming an issue in all woodland and grassland. In a tropical climate pay attention to wildlife, spiders, mosquitos. What vaccinations do you need? Many are needed two weeks before traveling so get organised well in advance.

A risk assessment of a location in or near water needs to review and highlight how cold the water is, are there water borne diseases? In the ocean is there jelly Fish? If your boat capsizes, what is the plan? Are there rip tides and tidal currents? Does everyone have a life jacket available to wear from the moment they leave dry land rather than waiting for them out to sea? Is a boat overloaded with equipment? Is flooding a risk? Landslide or Avalanche? Are you being asked to take responsibility for something that is not your department like a member of the camera department being asked to watch out for the safety of an actor on a cliff?

Ask about the qualifications of a medic and their experience. Keep on top of passport, visa and immigration paperwork recommended by the production as this can take time to clear embassies. The security of yourself, your crew, your cast and your kit is also an added responsibility to consider when on location. You may be working with local crew who have different ways of working, what is the local attitude towards a Safety meeting? Are they expected and respected as they are in the UK? Make it clear that as a crew you expect and demand an inclusive and comprehensive safety brief before any stunt or dangerous shot.