The Film and Television Industry is a unique business. It can also presents unique and unusual occupational health and safety hazards to its workers.

This fact was recognized by members of the Industry and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development who came together on May 11, 1988, for the first meeting of the Section 21 Committee Health and Safety Advisory for the Film and Television Industry.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of all parties in the workplace. It establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and it provides for enforcement of the law where compliance has not been achieved voluntarily by workplace parties. Each employer/producer, supervisor and worker needs to be familiar with the provisions of the OHSA and the regulations that apply to film and television work environments. All of these workplace parties have responsibilities under the OHSA and the regulations. It is important to note that the OHSA definition of “worker” includes self-employed independent contractors.

In the context of film and television workplaces, inspectors with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will apply the requirements of the OHSA and the relevant regulations made under the Act such as Regulation for Industrial Establishments, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation, and Regulation for Construction Projects. Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development inspectors are provided a copy of these Guidelines, but it is important to remember that their responsibility is to apply and enforce the law and they are not bound by or obliged to apply the Guidelines.

Child performers are also covered by the Protecting Child Performers Act, 2015 (PCPA) and its regulations. The main purpose of the PCPA is to promote the best interests, protection and well-being of child performers. The PCPA sets out certain minimum requirements for employing or contracting for the services of child performers in Ontario, including but not limited to requirements regarding the following:

  • disclosure of information about role and other matters
  • travel
  • minimum ages
  • parental accompaniment
  • chaperones
  • child performers’ co-ordinator
  • child attendants
  • requirement for clean criminal record
  • training
  • right to refuse work
  • healthy food

For more information please see the Child Performers Guideline.

All provincially-regulated employers in Ontario are required to ensure that workers and supervisors have completed a basic occupational health and safety awareness training program that meets the requirements (such as content and recordkeeping) set out in O. Reg. 297/13 (Occupational Health and Safety Awareness and Training) under the OHSA. Online training programs are available from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. Employers/engagers can use their own training programs as long as it satisfies the requirements of the regulation.

The definition of worker under Ontario’s OHSA has been expanded to extend coverage of the OHSA to unpaid co-op students, certain other learners and trainees participating in a work placement in Ontario.

Specifically, the new definition of worker now includes:

  • Unpaid secondary school students who are participating in a work experience program, authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the students are enrolled,
  • Other unpaid learners participating in a program approved by a post-secondary institution, and,
  • Any unpaid trainees who are not employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) because they meet certain conditions.

Volunteers who work for no monetary payment of any kind are not covered by this new definition of worker.

These Guidelines have been prepared by representatives of the industry on the Section 21 Committee Health and Safety Advisory for the Film and Television Industry to assist employers/producers, supervisors and working professionals in determining the ways they may best comply with their obligations under the OHSA and the relevant regulations made under the Act. Following the recommendations and the guidelines does not relieve the workplace parties of their obligations under OHSA. The Committee was assisted by experts in the various skills, hazards and techniques mentioned throughout this document (see Acknowledgements).

The Guidelines recommend realistic procedures to develop methods for identifying potential hazards in our work environments, in order to increase our productivity and to protect those working in the film and television industry. Safe procedures do not involve losing the appearance of risk that can be such a vital quality of the production. These Guidelines are intended to assist people involved in the industry and not replace the laws that are in place. To determine their legal workplace duties and rights, employers/producers, supervisors and working professionals are urged to refer to the actual legislation. The Guidelines will be continually updated and augmented, to deal with the changes in the film and television field as they occur.

The Guidelines are for everyone in the film and television field. They aim to educate every worker, in all disciplines, at all levels, in the value of hazard recognition and safe working practices. Education is the foundation of any health and safety program, with knowledgeable performers, support staff, and management working together. The more workers and management know, the more effectively they can identify specific needs and issues before those issues become problems.

Safe practice in a safe environment makes for an efficient operation. At all times we must be vigilant in identifying potential hazards by being aware of where we are, what we are doing, with what and to whom. Safety is cost effective in both human and economic terms.

This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply and enforce these laws based on the facts they find in the workplace.