Published on: 21 November 2023 in Industry

Mark Milsome Foundation and Bectu release findings from crew safety survey

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This week, The Mark Milsome Foundation and Bectu released the findings from a survey of TV and film crew on views on health and safety training and protocols on British sets and shoots.

Released on what was the sixth anniversary of the tragic death of British cameraman Mark Milsome, the survey revealed serious concerns around health and safety practices and long working hours from crew within the UK film and TV industry.

These results raise concerns around health and wellbeing practices. Safety on set is vital, and our long hours culture is increasingly harmful and unsustainable. Directors UK supports calls for improved health and safety training and practices for all working on set or out on a shoot, which affect our members working in all genres. In 2019 we created guidance for self-shooting directors working in factual production to support safety concerns for lone shooters. 

Our CEO Andy Harrower added: "People’s lives should not be put at risk to make TV programmes or films. Improving health and safety practices and the long hours culture in our industry is key to safety and wellbeing."

The survey found that there is an overwhelming consensus around the need to improve safety and training protocols, and that production companies should take ultimate responsibility for issues impacting shooting crew on a TV or film set, even when freelancers are involved in a project. The survey also shows a worrying trend around crew’s unwillingness to speak up about safety concerns —all those who reported specific incidents asked to remain anonymous due to fears about losing current or future roles.

Over two-thirds of those surveyed expressed concerns with people being promoted to positions of responsibility without adequate safety experience or qualifications. 

Also reflected in the survey is a need to address the culture of long working days, which go hand-in-hand with unsafe working and commute conditions. Over 90% of those surveyed said they had experienced a 10+ hour day not including travel, overtime or other unpaid working time, as their most recent experience of a normal working day and many said that they were concerned about long hours impacting their ability to carry out their work in a safe and responsible manner. Long working hours and its impact on wellbeing and safety was also raised by Directors UK members at our Town Hall in October. 

The survey and its findings highlight how important it is for everyone working on set or on a shoot to feel confident that they are collaborating with competent and safety-conscious colleagues. The dynamic nature of freelance work on TV and film sets means any safety-responsible roles should meet established universal standards, and should have craft-specific qualifications supported by recognised training and work experience structures. Bectu and Mark Milsome Foundation are calling for a commitment from the industry to ensure that everyone working on a film set has completed a Level 2 Production Safety Passport, and that everyone in a supervisory role has completed the Level 3.5 Passport.

Of the insights shared by TV and film crew, Chair of the Mark Milsome Foundation Samantha Wainstein said: “This survey has gathered data on first-hand experiences from crew […] providing strong evidence that safety training for all is a necessary requirement. We are committed to advocating for safer sets until substantial and effective change is realised.”

We will keep you informed of progress in establishing industry standards and qualifications for mandatory training.

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