Dangers To Avoid On Set



Falls are the single most common injury-producing accident on film sets. Often these falls are the result of haste and/or not utilizing proper safety measures such as fall restraint systems, nets and guardrails. Any elevation, location, or lighting that requires an elevation of over 6 feet must be reviewed by PAT for safety and may require a fall arrest system (harness, e.g.) designed by a competent person. The most important thing you can do to prevent accidents of this type is to be aware of tempo of the set. Have a sense of when things are starting to get hectic and out of control. If you perceive this to be the case, slow the pace down. 


Jumping on or off a truck lift gate 

Despite your age and athleticism, do not jump on or off a lift gate. This is a very good way to sprain an ankle or knee.  

Motor Vehicles and filming equipment 

Shooting on any public street, thoroughfare, alley, road, highway or freeway; or near enough to any such roadway so as to present a “distraction and/or disturbance” is prohibited by local, State and/or Federal law without the proper permits and safety procedures. Filmmakers are never empowered to control or direct traffic in any way. Per SFTV policy, if you are planning to shoot on or adjacent to a street, highway, road or parking lot you will be issued SFTV reflective safety vests. These must be worn by all of your crew.  


Heat Illness Prevention 

Labor rules kick in at 80 and 95 degrees and above. While not applicable to a student film shoot, it’s a good idea to adapt them. Set must provide access to water and shade. There should be continuous line of sight maintained between all cast and crew. Have a buddy system.


When the body gains or retains more heat than it loses, the result is called hyperthermia or high core temperature, which can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs and could decrease the chances of survival. Elevated air temperatures and humidity, working around hot machinery, vigorous work activity, absence of a breeze or wind or exposure to direct sunlight can all contribute to overheating. 


Hypothermia is reduced body temperature that happens when a body dissipates more heat than it absorbs. In mild hypothermia there is shivering and mental confusion. In moderate hypothermia shivering stops and confusion increases. In severe hypothermia, there may be paradoxical undressing, in which a person removes his or her clothing, as well as an increased risk of the heart stopping.  

Efforts to increase body temperature involve shivering, increased voluntary activity, and putting on warmer clothing. Hypothermia may be diagnosed based on either a person’s symptoms in the presence of risk factors or by measuring a person’s core temperature.  

The treatment of mild hypothermia involves warm drinks, warm clothing, and physical activity. 

Heat Cramps 

Heat cramps are caused by the loss of electrolytes in the blood and muscle tissue through sweating.  The primary symptom of heat cramps is painful muscle spasms or cramping of skeletal muscles, such as the arms and leg, or involuntary muscles such as abdominal muscles or both. 

Heat Exhaustion 

Heat exhaustion, also called heat prostration or heat collapse, is the most common serious illness caused by heat. 

Symptoms may include:  

Nausea, cold/wet (clammy), dizziness, grayish skin color, headache, disorientation, blurred vision. Heat exhaustion may come on suddenly as syncope (fainting) and collapse. This is especially true if the crew or cast member has been sitting or standing for long periods of time with little movement. The vital signs may be normal, although the pulse is often rapid.  

Treatment includes removal from the heat, seeking medical attention and/or calling 911, replenish fluids .


Heatstroke is the least common but most serious heat illness caused by heat exposure. It is caused by a severe disturbance in the heat regulating mechanism of the body and is a true medical emergency. Left untreated, heatstroke may result in death. 

Treatment includes: 

Seek medical attention and/or call 911 immediately remove from heat, lie on back with feet elevated. Start aggressive cooling with wet cloths, alcohol wipes or immersion into tepid water. Transport to a medical facility. 

Ultraviolet radiation 

Another hazard is ultraviolet radiation, caused by exposure to the sun’s rays. Exposure can cause sunburn; long term exposure can cause skin cancer. Precautions to minimize exposure should be taken, including the use of sunscreen should be applied 15 to 20 minutes prior to exposure, reapply throughout the workday. 

General Precautions for hot environments 

Fluid replacement is the most important thing a person can do to prevent heat- related illnesses; Alternate between water and Gatorade type drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

Use sunscreen or sun block, wear long loose sleeved shirts and pants and a wide brim hat; baseball caps do not provide protection to the ears and neck area of the body. 

Overhead sun protection, water and/or fluid supply should be available. 

Indigenous Critters 

Special safety considerations must be taken when working on locations where various indigenous critters may be present. It is also production’s responsibility to assure the safety of the indigenous critters in the filming area, and to provide for the removal of wildlife from locations.  

If you have additional questions regarding the AHA’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media, contact the Film and Television Unit at (818) 501-0123.   


Always look where you are putting your feet and hands, never reach into a hole, crevices in rock piles, under rocks, or dark places where a snake may be hiding. If you need to turn over rocks, use a stick. 

Attempt to stay out of tall grass. Walk in cleared spots as much as possible. step on logs, not over them so that you can first see whether there is a rattlesnake concealed below on the far side.

Be cautious when picking up equipment, coiled cables, and bags left on the ground. Cables must be properly secured in all walkways.

On hot summer days, rattlesnakes can become nocturnal and come out at night when you do not expect it. Care should be taken when working at night after a hot summer day.

If bitten:  

Seek immediate medical attention, immediately immobilize the body part affected, attempt to note the time and area of body bitten, do not apply a tourniquet, incise the wound, or attempt to suck out the venom, do not allow the victim to engage in physical activity. 


Locations that may involve the use of alleyways, beneath bridges, tunnels, abandoned buildings, or other structures, may involve potential contact with rodents. 


Power Tools

Power tools are dangerous unless they are handled with care and respect. If the operator is standing on a wet conductive surface, the shock can be fatal. Power tools should never be carried by their cords and they should never be shut off by yanking the cord from the receptacle. When using power tools during construction, Ground Fault Circuit-Interrupter (GFI) protection is required. Test the GFI device to see if it is functioning properly.  


Smoking is never allowed on sound stages unless the script requires it. In that case, butt cans, or a metal can filled with sand to extinguish cigarettes, must be nearby. The stage must be adequately managed and means of escape from sets and buildings is provided. All items of scenery, including props and dressings, should be either naturally fire resistant, flame- or fire- proofed. 


The use of glass within studios and stage sets should be avoided. Where possible, use plastic-based materials. 

Fire Lanes and Fire Exits

Means of escape in case of fire should be clearly identified and kept clear at all times. 

Sets should not obstruct the statutory fire signage used within studios, stages, or theaters. If necessary, temporary signage should be provided if any scenery obstructs the view of normal fire escape signs. 

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