Television or film production sets include many activities that pose a serious risk of injury or death, including the use of firearms and other weapons. Producers should take precautions and control risks to ensure the safety of all cast and crew members throughout the production process.
What are common hazards on set?
Filming can be set up nearly anywhere and combine many activities in one place. Other hazards can include:
- Alcohol and other drugs
- Animal handling
- Burns and scalds
- Diseases from animals
- Elevating work platforms
- Events – short term fuel storage
- Mobile plant
- Slips, trips and falls
- Work at heights
What are the risks of firearms, weapons, and stunts?
Using firearms, other weapons and incorporating stunts creates risks for serious physical injury and death. These high-risk activities require special consideration in your safety planning and procedures. During training, rehearsals and takes, they are potentially hazardous manual tasks and can result in:
- accidental discharge of a firearm
- mishandling of a firearm
- injuries such as falls, collisions, and burns
- cuts, stabbing, lacerations
- hearing loss - shotguns, rifles and other firearms far exceed the exposure standard and can cause instantaneous hearing damage.
How do I manage the risks?
Workers and management can work together to reduce the risks of hazards at work.
Screen Safety Australia provides national guidelines for production safety. They have a specific guideline for high-risk production activities. Use these documents and the recommendations in them to create safe-work practices, procedures, and environment on set and for any public (if street filming, for example).
- No live ammunition on set.
- Firearms must be supplied and supervised by a trained, experienced, and licensed armourer.
- Productions in Queensland must take professional advice about the ability to use operable firearms.
- Queensland laws prohibit the use of firearms that have not been modified to prevent the chambering or discharge of a live round.
As a worker, you have a responsibility to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and make sure that your work doesn’t have a negative impact on the health and safety of others.
For example, you should:
- only do stunt work that you are qualified for
- always follow the instructions of the armourer
- learn and follow the planned choreography
- wear all PPE supplied.
For employers or persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU), it’s your duty to manage production risks, as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Following the four-step risk management process below will help your business meet its responsibilities under work health and safety (WHS) laws. You can also use the practical advice in the How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB) and in the National safety guidelines from Screen Safe Australia.
You must notify us if someone is badly hurt or killed on set.
Four steps to managing risk
To identify a hazard on set, consider:
- why firearms are on the set
- what types of firearms and ammunition are required
- what locations they will be required in
- where they will be stored
- what testing is required before use
- what maintenance is required
- there is a trained, experienced, and licensed armourer on set
- the armourer has only one role
- workers are trained in handling the firearms
- other set workers are trained and aware of the firearms risk assessment and safe working procedure.
Inspect the workplace
- Establish appropriate exclusion zones.
- Ensure the film set is secure from members of the public.
Talk to your workers
Ask workers if they are aware of any potential hazards when working with firearms. Think about ways to include workers who are less likely to speak up in a group, or who may have language barriers. Identifying hazards should be an ongoing activity. Encourage workers to always report anything that could be unsafe or any near misses.
The Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.49 MB) has further information about consultation with workers in the workplace.
Review available information
Look at a range of sources to help identify hazards, for example:
- the National Safety guidelines – Screen Safe Australia
- find out what hazards other film sets have identified
- look at your own records, including any recorded incidents, near-misses, or complaints.
Assess the level of risk posed by each hazard.
The risk level is determined by:
- how serious the potential harm is
- how likely it is to happen.
You can use this risk assessment template (DOCX, 0.02 MB) to guide you and record your assessments.
A risk assessment can help you figure out:
- where, when and how firearms at your workplace might be a risk
- the possible degree of harm for the workers
- whether any control measures are already in place and if they’re effective
- what actions you can take to control the risks and keep workers safe
- how quickly you should act.
You must put controls in place that minimise the risk as far as reasonably practicable. This means doing what you’re reasonably able to do.
The hierarchy of controls, as discussed in How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB), ranks types of control methods from the highest protection to the lowest. The National Guidelines for Screen Safety has industry specific guidance on how to manage firearms hazards on set.
The control measures you put in place should be regularly reviewed to make sure they are effective. If the control measure is not working effectively, it must be revised to ensure it is effective in controlling the risk.
Workers should be encouraged to report hazards and health and safety problems immediately so the risks can be managed.
Standards and compliance
- Queensland: Weapons Act 1990, Weapons Regulations 1996
- Work Health and Safety Act 2011
- Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011
Codes of practice
- How to manage work health and safety risks code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.65 MB)
- First aid in the workplace code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.48 MB)
- Work health and safety consultation, co-operation and co-ordination code of practice 2021 (PDF, 0.49 MB)
- Managing noise and preventing hearing loss at work code of practice 2021 (PDF, 1.57 MB)