Now that we’re in the middle of our studio shoots (and I’ve got a few minutes spare) I might as well bang off some health and safety tips to keep the nice examiners for NCFE Level 2 happy (and my classmates and I alive, too, obvs). Try not to fall asleep…

  • If you’re working somewhere new, check any rules that exist and make sure you observe them. For instance, when filming cars for BBC Watchdog, I had to make sure they arrived in plenty of time to have nearly all their fuel syphoned out. For obvious safety reasons, they weren’t allowed on the studio floor until this was done: a car with only a teeny bit of petrol in it is less of a hazard than one with a full tank. I’m not planning on shooting any cars in class this term (we’d never get them in the lift), but if I were, this would be the sort of thing I’d have to think about. Which sounds a bit grandiose, but it’s a useful way to think. Say I wanted to shoot a bottle of turps. Do I need the liquid to actually be turps or could I get away with water? If not, does the bottle have to be full? Etc Etc. Reduce and limit hazards whenever you can.
  • Flammable or not, keep all non-essential odds and sods well out of the way of the shoot. Be that your kit bag, your cup of tea, your sarnies, your roll of gaffer tape – whatever it is, unless you’re shooting with it or shooting it, whack it somewhere safe out the way where nobody’s going to fall over it or knock it over the set.
  • Lights can be extremely dangerous. They should be regularly checked and signed off as safe. As I’m only using lights at college, this is ultimately RACC’s responsibility, but it never hurts to double check protocol has been adhered to. If it were my studio I’d be responsible for ensuring all equipment was safe to use.
  • Lights get hot, so care needs to be taken when manoeuvring them and adding or changing moderators such as barn doors etc. Wear protective gloves if needs be. Keep all liquids well away.
  • Some lights in our class’ studio need to be moved using a removable pole. Unless you’re planning on giving someone a head injury, be careful not to leave the pole unattended while in situ. Alternatively, use a warning cone or warning tape to mark off and secure any area where there is a potential danger. Remember, even when initially aware of a hazard, if you’re stood looking through the lens for a while it’s easy to become disconnected from your surroundings and forget that light/pole/whatever directly behind you…until you walk into it.
  • Use tape to secure cables that might otherwise be tripped over and, in turn, knock a light or other equipment over in the process. Ditto cables hanging at head height. Basically, if someone could trip over; hang or whack themselves with something, make it safe. This is especially important at the moment when the entire class is all hustling to grab studio shots at the same time: so many people working alongside each other just increases the risk. Be mindful of others and your surroundings at all times.
  • Backdrops can cost a fortune and are easily torn. Make sure they are taped down when in use so that they don’t present a hazard and rolled up carefully at the end of the shoot.
  • At the end of a shoot, all equipment must be turned off and safely stored away. Put it back where it belongs so that other people can find it. Remove batteries from triggers etc. where necessary and place on charge if required.
  • Don’t forget to get model release and location release forms signed where relevant.
  • Basically, do as you would be done by. Take turns; be nice; stay safe and clear up after yourself. That is all.
  • Get insurance both for your kit and third party. That way you have cover and are covered if anything breaks or, worse, you injure anyone. Our tutor suggests joining a-n The Artists Information Company as £5m Public & Products Liability insurance and £5m Professional Indemnity insurance cover is included with a-n Artist membership. Apparently, they also offer decent rates on add-ons, such as equipment insurance etc (and he is definitely not on a cashback deal).


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