Quoted in Broadcast last month, Bectu assistant general secretary Martin Spence said: “Where people are permanently employed at broadcasters and production companies, there are safety reps, which the law allows for. The problem is that when the Health and Safety At Work Act  was written, it assumed that everyone was employed. It’s much harder to regulate freelance activity. Freelancers don’t have the same formal structures; it’s a bit more free-wheeling.”
Which is what we were talking about here : production designers and construction managers, who have significant health & safety responsibilities, are generally freelancers.
Luckily, the potential storm that could be kicked up by this is being addressed.
First off, Skillset and industry bodies have worked together to create the film and television Health and Safety Framework, an agreement across sectors about which qualifications or training courses are needed for priority production roles.
This is of real value to film and television freelancers, whose training and qualifications can now continue to be recognised as they move from contract to contract. It also makes clearer to freelancers what training and qualifications they are expected to have in performing their jobs.
With Health & Safety a priority for the film and television industries, there are quite a few Skillset bursaries available for health & safety courses that are relevant to film and television freelancers.
And once you’ve got your cut-price training, you can take it with you from job to job by using the Production Safety Passport. This logs an individual’s training record and travels with them, so that they are not asked to repeat training.
Angela Roberts, managing editor of the BBC’s College of Production and member of Skillset’s TV Skills Council, said: “The Production Safety Passport is a really important innovation for our industry; it will save companies and individuals time and money, whilst still making sure that we are operating in safe and effective workplaces.”