Janet Sellery

Recent Posts

How Can Music Venues And Tours Work Together Safely?

Posted by Janet Sellery on Jul 29, 2015 10:20:00 AM



Last August, at the CITT (Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology) conference in Ottawa, we talked about health and safety in venues used for tours and events. Here are three points that came up during our discussion:

Preparation FOR TOURING

  • Identify who has overall authority for H & S for each event. Depending on the contractual agreement, this could be either the venue or the promoter. Refer to definitions in local legislation for roles such as Employer, Owner, Constructor, Prime Contractor or Principal Contractor.
  • Discuss H & S requirements during the early stage of event planning and include them in a contract rider.
  • Remember, touring shows encounter different requirements around the world, ranging from non-existent to very strict. Help them understand what is required for your jurisdiction and venue.

Communication ON TOUR

  • The person arranging the booking may have limited ties to the show on site and may not pass on info. Talk about H & S when you advance the show closer to its arrival.
  • Communicate H & S info through venue technical specifications, promoter guides, advance sheets and info attached to the contract, as well as posted reminders and signage at the venue.
  • When the show arrives at the venue, review H & S info with the tour manager.

Enforcement AT EVENT

  • You’ve done your planning and communicated H & S requirements. What do you do when you encounter resistance?
  • The person with overall authority for H & S for the event must enforce the requirements.
  • Supervisors must respond as soon as an issue arises.
  • This may be as simple as a reminder to put on a hard hat, or as serious as stopping the work until it is made safe or sending a worker home. 

And the good news...

  • Local crews are generally on board with requirements such as hard hats, safety footwear and fall protection. As more venues require them, road crews are getting used to these expectations.
  • Risk assessment is becoming more common.
  • Attitudes towards H & S are improving.

Venues and tours need to continue to work together to protect their people and events.

Janet Sellery

Topics: band tour insurance

How did what happened to Sarah Jones change the film industry?

Posted by Janet Sellery on Jul 24, 2015 10:43:00 AM

Sarah Jones, Camera Assistanthow did what happened to sarah jones change film industry safety?

On February 20, 2014, Sarah Jones, a 27 year old camera assistant, was tragically killed when Midnight Rider filmmakers criminally trespassed onto live train tracks and began shooting. They did not tell their crew that they had twice been denied permission by CSX to be on the tracks; they also had no safety meeting beforehand and no medic, nor railroad personnel present on set.

Her colleagues have reflected on their role in health and safety and Dave Chameides has written a moving article: Camera Operator After ‘Midnight Rider': “Speak Loudly And Lead By Example”. Here are some excerpts: (The emphasis is mine.)

“As a camera operator with 25 years experience, I understand that it’s part of my job description to make sure that my crew and I remain safe. I’m not infallible and it’s not a job that is mine alone, but at the end of the day I know that if one of my brothers or sisters doesn’t make it home safely, I’m one of the people who dropped the ball.

And I can’t live with that.

More than a year has passed since that fateful day and I find myself thinking of Sarah Jones often. The weight of her death hangs on me, not because I knew her but because I see her on set every day.

On every set I see her because on every set I see young filmmakers hungry to prove themselves, to make their mark, to climb the ladder and live this crazy dream that we all seem so enamored with. And on every set I know that all the Sarahs look to me and others for guidance, safe in the knowledge that if we are not concerned about a particular issue than it must be OK.

But it’s not always OK.

So today I have a request. If you are an experienced industry professional, let your co-workers know that you will point out any safety issues you are aware of. Let them know it’s up to all of us to watch out for each other but that you’ll gladly speak up if they are afraid to. Let them know that set safety is portal to portal, because crew members will lose a life falling asleep at the wheel much more often than they will from of a falling piece of equipment. Let them know that what’s most important in our business is that every member of the crew arrives home safely at the end of every day.

While it’s everyone’s job to address safety concerns, these individuals may not have the confidence to speak up yet, so it falls on us, the veterans, to do that for them and lead by example. We had role models who watched out for us when our careers were just starting out and now it’s our turn to step up, regardless of where we fall on the call sheet. The simple fact that we have years in the trenches gives us the power and the responsibility to speak loudly, speak clearly, and show others that safety comes first and unsafe set practices will not be tolerated.

No one spoke up for Sarah Jones or any of her crew. Someone should have. Starting today, make sure someone does.

For Sarah.

For all the Sarahs.

For all of us.

First filmmaker ever convicted in a case involving on-set death

Director/producer/co-writer Randy Miller pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years — two years in jail, eight years probation — plus a $20,000 fine and 360 hours of community service. He also agreed not to serve as director, assistant director or supervisor in charge of safety on any film production for 10 years.

Unit production manager Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz were convicted of criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter. Both were released on 10 years probation.



The Safety for Sarah movement

Safety For Sarah Logo

Safety for Sarah website

See: ‘Midnight Rider’ Director Randall Miller Issues Statement From Jail – Updated

Janet Sellery

Topics: Film Production, TV Series, Public Liability Insurance for Film