In 2014, Sarah Jones, a young camera assistant, was struck and killed by a train while working on the set of Midnight Rider. For their part in what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) called an “entirely preventable” death, filmmakers faced criminal charges and the production company and individuals faced fines totaling $74,900. Sarah Jones’s death highlights the need to take camera crew safety concerns seriously—on movie sets and other filming projects alike.
To keep your camera crew safe:
Get permission to film.
Midnight Rider filmmakers had been denied permission to film on the tracks, but took what they likely believed was a low risk and filmed there anyway. When you’re dealing with safety, the stakes are just too high to make your own rules.
July and August are some of the hottest months of the year in much of the US. Staying compliant with OSHA’s guidelines to provide water, rest, and shade keeps workers from getting heat related illness. It also prevents them from missing work and you from getting fined.
Budget and plan for safety measures.
The Sarah Jones Film Foundation (SJFF) encourages considering measures such as “on-set medics, security officers, fire department representatives, street closures” as necessities rather than luxuries. That means if you don’t have the funds or resources to keep your camera crew safe, you don’t have a project.
Download the Set Safety App.
Created in Sarah’s honor to promote safety on set, the app “gives users quick access to safety hotlines for reporting unsafe working conditions and excessive work hours.” Find it here for iPhone and here for Android.
According to the SJFF, Sarah’s death highlighted longstanding concerns about set safety—longstanding concerns that can only be wiped out with the video industry’s full commitment to set safety.
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