The Important Role of EHS&S Support for Production
Lights, Camera, Action…Sanitize! As with most industries, television and film production has evolved in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure a safe working environment for talent and crews. For some productions, additional health and safety practices may be a “nice to have” for everyone’s peace of mind, but for others, there are specific requirements a production must comply with based on insurance contracts, labor unions, such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), or the location of the production itself. In all cases it’s better to be safe than finding yourself in a situation that has contributed to the spread of the virus and caused people to become sick, or worse.
Now, you might be thinking, “People are getting vaccinated! There is light at the end of the tunnel!” And you’re right, the dark COVID cloud is lifting, but experts still agree that full vaccination in the U.S. won’t be achieved until mid-Summer – but the timeline is much longer in other parts of the world. For this reason, COVID-19 Compliance Officers have become and will continue to be fixtures on production sets for the foreseeable future.
COVID-19 Compliance Officer
The COVID-19 Compliance Officer is a relatively new role for production safety and is sought after by many production companies. The COVID-19 Officer is present on-set to oversee proper sanitation of equipment and social distancing of people in adherence to health and safety requirements. They will likely be the first to arrive on location to conduct health screenings that include paperwork confirming talent and crew are symptom free, temperature checks, and distribution of masks and sanitizer. They can also be in charge of tracking COVID-19 test results that might be required of talent and crew.
Working behind the scenes, the COVID-19 Compliance Officer is intended to be visible and ready for the fast-pace and changing dynamics of production events. For a studio shoot, the environment is easier to control health and safety by wiping down and sanitizing surfaces and ensuring good airflow or HEPA filter usage. It becomes a little more complicated during on-location shoots. For this reason, it’s important to engage a COVID-19 Compliance Officer when establishing shoot schedules so that they can provide input into:
- Where health checks will occur
- How cleared/health screened personnel will be identifiable to the team
- How equipment will be sanitized
- How many people will be allowed per vehicle
- How catering and eating areas will be managed
Pandemics aside, there are several other ways that production companies can benefit from proactively managing other environment, health, safety and sustainability aspects during production events – whether it’s location scouting, photoshoots, filming or promotional events. We explain them here:
Environmental Hazards and Remediation
When filming on location, the studio needs to be aware of EHS&S risks during the location scouting process. There are a multitude of potential environmental hazards that should be reviewed, such as evaluating the property’s past usage which can be validated by soil or water testing, looking for signs of mold in older buildings, and determining the potential presence of lead-based paint or asbestos that may impact the use of the facility. In some cases, remediation or clean-up may be needed prior to the production’s art department taking over the space to prep for filming. It’s important to include an EHS&S expert early on in location scouting to minimize potential costs later down the road and help with potential permitting needs.
On Set Health & Safety
Health and Safety for production has always been around but in recent years has become more visible. It is estimated that between 20 and 40 people are severely injured or even killed each year during the production of a film. There are many challenges for safety on set on or location including stunts, animals, moving equipment, extreme weather, cranes, confined spaces, and much more. Having a dedicated Production Safety Manager will help to assess any potential risks and offer up recommendations to mitigate or reduce risk. This can include everything from having plans for a medical emergency, severe weather, active threat, or fire, down to details like food safety or walking the area for potential slip, trip, or fall hazards. From experience, we have seen some “unique safety situations” that production teams didn’t evaluate fully such as having talent walk across glass window (a potential safety hazard if the glass broke) or having talent stand on a metal table in the ocean while wearing high heels for a photoshoot (a potential fall hazard).
Sustainability for Production Events
An area that’s growing in visibility and demand at the request of stakeholders is the focus on sustainability in production and events. Integrating sustainable practices into your production can have positive environmental, social and economic impacts that can translate to reduced carbon footprint, improved worker health and well-being, and cost savings. Having a sustainability expert involved early in production planning will allow you to be deliberate about sustainability goal setting, identify data collection needs, and outline best practices for energy and water usage, waste management and travel-related carbon offsets.
Overall, EHS&S experts allow production and events to proceed safely. They know to plan for the unknown, can react quickly, and are able to adapt and be flexible as things come up (and things always come up). Again, speaking from experience, our teams have had to address and plan for civil unrest at a production location, as well as manage colder than expected weather that resulted in contactless thermometers not working during COVID-19 health screenings. Our EHS&S experts are used to thinking on their feet and finding solutions that prioritize health and safety and minimize production delays.
Antea Group On-Set with Small Business Revolution
Antea Group USA is currently partnering with Deluxe and providing COVID-19 Compliance Officers for the production of Small Business Revolution. For season six of this television series, Deluxe brought the production to Minneapolis in light of last year’s civil unrest surrounding the civil unrest in Minneapolis. This season will focus on helping black-owned businesses overcome their biggest financial, marketing, and technology obstacles. As a Minnesota-based company, we are proud to be supporting our local community in the Twin Cities.
"As we begin filming Season 6 of Small Business Revolution, Deluxe is committed to keeping everyone safe while on set. We’re thankful to have Antea Group lead COVID safety protocols to ensure a safe and healthy production."
– Amanda Brinkman, Chief Brand Officer at Deluxe and host, creator, and producer of Small Business Revolution.
About Antea Group: Antea Group is an international engineering and environmental consulting firm specializing in full-service solutions in the fields of environment, infrastructure, urban planning, and water. By combining strategic thinking and multidisciplinary perspectives with technical expertise and pragmatic action, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. We serve clients ranging from global energy companies and manufacturers to national governments and local municipalities. Learn more at https://us.anteagroup.com.