Guidelines for health and safety in small workplaces

Equity has been involved in discussions with broadcasters, film and TV producers and other organisations and stakeholders within the TV and Film industry about developing protocols for returning to work safely during COVID-19. See here for this guidance.  Equity has been in consultation with audio UK and there are published guidelines for those working in audio industry that can be found below.

However, we are aware that some of our members work on smaller scale engagements which may not be covered by these protocols.

What should you expect in these circumstances?

All workplaces are covered by Government Health and Safety legislation. The below guidance should be read in conjunction with the latest UK Government guidance. At its most effective, health and safety at work is an open and collaborative culture in which workers feel able to express any concerns they have and work with the producer to minimise hazards. Whilst everyone has a responsibility to ensure good health & safety practice in the workplace, the legal responsibility for protecting workers’ health and safety sits with the producer. This means that a producer is required to think about the risks you might encounter at work and do everything reasonably practical to minimise them.

It is important to recognise that, at this stage, no producer can completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 – but they are expected to show that they have done all they can reasonably do in order to reduce the risk of the virus.

Risk Assessments

All producers should carry out a Risk Assessment. The purpose of a Risk Assessment is to identify the hazards that workers and other people may encounter in the workplace, assess the level of risk posed by each hazard and plan reasonable steps to minimise the level of risk.

It is important to remember that a Risk Assessment is a living document – to be updated when circumstances change, in the event of an incident and as hazards and/or the risk they pose alter over time. The producer should also have in place a clear and confidential procedure for reporting instances of non-compliance.

At the point of contract, we advise that you or your agent should ask to see a copy of the production’s Risk Assessment. Remember that workers should be consulted and involved in Risk Assessments.

A Risk Assessment could cover areas such as:

  • Testing/symptoms checks, eg., temperature testing
  • Social distancing and markers
  • PPE
  • Provision of wash stations and/or sanitisers
  • One-way systems
  • Reduced numbers on set, limited access and staggered call times
  • No communal food preparation or serving, eg., buffets
  • Adoption of inclusive remote-working technology wherever possible, eg., briefings; readthroughs
  • Limited access to communal work areas

This list is not prescriptive or exhaustive but gives you an idea of what might be included.

Vulnerable Groups and Equalities

If you are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 your individual circumstances must be taken into account under a Risk Assessment. The Equality Act 2010 provides a legal framework that protects the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against on the grounds of a protected characteristic, including at work and in the pursuit of work opportunities.

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Producers should provide support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include advice or a telephone support line. Information about mental health resources, including Equity’s 24 hour mental health helpline, is available here.

Concerned?

Let your Equity Organiser know if you believe a producer has failed to meet these requirements and you do not feel able to resolve this with the producer directly. We can remind them of their duty of care and legal responsibilities.

For further useful advice on Audio Studios

https://www.audiouk.org.uk/audiouk-covid-19-production-guidelines

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