Did you know that as an independent producer or independent theatre company, you are required by law to have a Harassment Policy and a Health and Safety Policy? This page will talk about Workplace Safety from a Health and Safety perspective. For resources related to Harassment, click here.
A health and safety policy is a written statement by an engager or employer stating the company's commitment to the protection of the health and safety of employees and to the public. It is an endorsed commitment by management to its employees regarding their health and safety.
When accepting a grant and/or hiring folks, you become an engager and must commit to providing safe working conditions and fostering a workplace free from discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.
Each of the ten provinces, three territories and the federal government has its own OH&S legislation. There are fourteen jurisdictions in Canada - one federal, ten provincial and three territorial each having its own occupational health and safety legislation. For most people in Canada, the agency that you would contact is the provincial or territorial agency in the area where you work.
Occupational health and safety (OH&S) legislation in Canada outlines the general rights and responsibilities of the employer, the supervisor and the worker through an Act or statute and related regulations. Regulations made under an Act define the application and enforcement of an Act.
Find the latest Ontario OHSA here. We highly recommend that you review the OH&S legislation applicable to you before undertaking a creative project.
These are based off of the Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario, an incredibly valuable tool for anyone producing work in Ontario.
Where applicable, workers in a live performance workplace shall select a safety representative from within the group. If the workers are represented by a union, the union has a responsibility to select a health and safety representative.
Each workplace shall have a copy of the Act, the Regulations and the Safety Guidelines for Live Performance easily accessible for workers and management.
All workplaces shall follow the first aid requirements made under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
Fire regulations and WHMIS requirements shall be strictly observed. Anyone performing activities or using materials covered by these regulations must ensure that personnel likely to be affected are fully informed of all hazards.
This is not an exhaustive list. We highly recommend that you review the Ontario OH&S or legislation applicable to you and Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario before undertaking a creative project.
Risk Assessment is an incredibly important tool as a producer. Cultivating the skill of identifying and reducing risks will make your production safer and your rehearsal process run smoother, saving you money and time while ensuring the safety of your artists.
Every person has the right to refuse unsafe work. Live performance venues and production environments (shops) can be dangerous places. They contain a vast assortment of equipment, tools, chemicals, and people, which together create the play, musical, dance, or opera. Those same components can also create numerous hazards, some with the potential of causing permanent personal injury. Risk assessment can keep people and productions safe by identifying, controlling and, where possible, eliminating occupational health and safety hazards onstage and backstage.
While a risk assessment is not specifically required under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) for hazards other than workplace violence, it may assist employers in complying with their obligations under the OHSA and its regulations. In conducting a risk assessment, the focus should be the health and safety of the worker. Controls implemented as a result of the risk assessment should also reflect this focus. Completing the risk assessment in writing is advised as it promotes actionable information and due diligence for those affected.
Risk assessments should be conducted for:
- The location: at the facility/venue/worksite
- The department: wardrobe, props/scenic constructions, scenic art, stage, front of house
- The activity: rehearsals, performances, changeovers, maintenance, etc.
Head to The Ontario Labour Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to find an example risk assessment form, schedule and procedure breakdown.
As a producer, you need to know what the potential work hazards are in order to mitigate them. Hazards may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Fog, smoke and special effects
- Flame effects
- Pyrotechnics, explosives
- Excessive sound levels
- Slips, trips and falls due to:
- Irregular stair heights
- Raked floors
- Unsuitable floor surfaces, especially for dance and fights
- Scenery, props, equipment, cables etc. backstage
- Falls from height due to:
- Unguarded edges of balconies, elevated set pieces, orchestra pits, traps etc.
- Performer flying
- Reduced visibility due to:
- Low lighting states and blackouts
- Masks and headgear with potential to obstruct vision
- Hazards of moving scenery due to:
- Installation or disassembly of scenery
Again, the Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario covers many of the common live performance hazards (like working outdoors, working from heights, rakes, stage combat, stunts and weaponry, etc) in great detail. Check out the guide to find out what your responsibilities are, and how to prepare and plan appropriately.
We will say it again: every person has the right to refuse unsafe work. If you find yourself in a position where you are being asked to do unsafe work, here is the procedure for work refusal according to The Ontario Ministry of Labour:
CAEA Equity General Health and Safety Checklist has been designed for the theatre workplace with the specific needs of the live performance industry in mind, and includes a list of items to verify, check or inspect.
The Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training regulation requires health and safety awareness training for every worker and supervisor under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The Ontario Ministry of Labour e-Learning Modules for Workers and Supervisors is a free suite of optional training resources designed to help workers and employers meet the requirements.
Worksafe BC - a list of resources that outline creating a safe work environment in terms of bullying and harassment.