Safety guidelines for the live performance industry
Learn about the requirements to identify and mitigate health and safety risks in the live performance industry.
About the Guidelines
The Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Industry in Ontario (the Guidelines) grew out of a need to address health and safety problems that are unique to our business.
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/engager, supervisor and worker needs to be familiar with the provisions of the OHSA and the regulations that apply to live performance 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 live performance workplaces, inspectors with the Ministry of Labour will apply the requirements of the OHSA and the relevant regulations made under the OHSA such as Regulation for Industrial Establishments, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation, and Regulation for Construction Projects. Ministry of Labour 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
- Minimum ages
- Parental accompaniment
- Child performers’ co-ordinator
- Child attendants
- Requirement for clean criminal record
- 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. 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 Health and Safety Advisory Committee for Live Performance to assist employers/engagers, supervisors and working professionals in meeting the requirements under the OHSA and the relevant regulations made under the OHSA. The Committee was assisted by experts in the various skills, hazards and techniques mentioned throughout this document.
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 live performance industry. Safe procedures do not involve losing the appearance of risk that can be such a vital quality of onstage live performance. 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/engagers, 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 live performance field as they occur.
The Guidelines are for everyone in the live performance field. They aim to educate every live performance 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.
Hazard Recognition, Assessment and Control
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. Hazard recognition, assessment and control are key to reducing and eliminating real and potential hazards. Everything we do has potential hazards, and everyone we work with is a partner in hazard recognition or a potential victim in occurrences. These Health and Safety Guidelines help you avoid many occurrences and reduce the damage and injury from occurrences that do occur.
- Occurrences, damage and injury are caused.
- Occurrences, damage and injury can be prevented if the causes are eliminated.
- Causes can be eliminated if we investigate all occurrences and potential occurrences properly, and implement solutions.
- Unless the causes are eliminated, the same occurrences will happen again.
Work Safely. Think Broadly.
Awareness must be constant. Together with our knowledge and skills, we must support and appreciate the less tangible human abilities like imagination and intuition in hazard recognition. Beyond the Act and beyond the Guidelines come good judgement, practical knowledge and common sense.
Speak up. Take Action.
Everyone working in live performance, on stages, and in shops must be involved in hazard recognition and control. We must not assume that hazards are other people's responsibility. We must all speak up and take action when we know or believe there are hazards in our workplace. We must also encourage others to speak up, and encourage and support them when they do. There should be no fear of retribution for speaking up about hazards. To be silent and take no action has potentially greater dangers.
- any circumstance, condition, or combination that poses the risk of an injury.
- any unplanned and unwanted event that may result in damage or injury.
- includes onstage, backstage, orchestra pit, fly gallery, trap rooms, quick change areas, dressing rooms, cross-over corridors, voms, entrances and booths.
- Rehearsal Hall:
- the area where the creation of onstage activities with performers, directors, stage managers, choreographers and others occurs.
- Production Period:
- the span of time from the point at which the production is conceived until the production is completed.
- Production Area (shop):
- any space where the creation of goods used in live performance occurs. This includes all shops for props, scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, wigs, make-up, special effects, etc.
- Minor Injury:
- can be treated with first aid.
- Major Injury:
- requires off-site medical treatment and can result in lost time, loss of limb(s) or permanent disability.
- Critical Injury:
- is defined in Regulation 834, and means an injury of a serious nature that,
- places life in jeopardy,
- produces unconsciousness,
- results in substantial loss of blood,
- involves the fracture of a leg or arm, but not a finger or toe,
- involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand or foot, but not a finger or toe,
- consists of burns to a major portion of the body, or
- causes the loss of sight in an eye.
- Standard Industry Practice:
- describes the work that is done and the conditions under which workers normally carry out their occupation.
- includes all areas involved in a live performance or rehearsal, and all areas of production used to create those products necessary for a live performance or rehearsal.
Some information to help you use these guidelines more effectively:
- Shall is used when referring to a practice that is law. Should is used when referring to a practice we recommend.
- For a definition of "competent" person, please refer to the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
- 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. (See Sections 8 and 9 in the Occupational Health and Safety Act for further information.)
- 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.
- Where a permanent health and safety committee exists in a live performance location, any incoming group of workers should select a safety representative from within the group.
- All workplaces should have a health and safety notice board to warn all personnel of any hazardous procedure, to refer to the relevant health and safety guidelines, and to give the location of safety and first aid equipment. Where a call sheet is used, it should incorporate the day's health and safety information.
- Communication is essential. Before the rehearsal of any potentially hazardous sequence, there should be a meeting of all relevant personnel for a thorough briefing. If substantial changes become necessary later on, another meeting should be held for all personnel involved, to confirm everyone's understanding of and agreement to the changes.
- Ministry of Labour, Performance Industry
- Health and Safety Ontario (health and safety association)
- Workplace Safety & Insurance Board
- Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards referenced in occupational health and safety legislation
Call 1-877-202-0008 anytime to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. For general inquiries about workplace health and safety and to report potentially unsafe work conditions, call 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. In an emergency, always call 911 immediately.
We would like to thank the Section 21 Advisory Committee on Health and Safety in the Ontario Film and Television Industry for their pioneering work in developing safety procedures in the entertainment industry.
Members (as of April 2018)
- Bonnie Armstrong
- Kyle Blenkhorn
- Neil Dennison
- Michelle DiCesare
- Mark Fine
- George Galanis
- Doug Hook
- Melynda Jurgenson
- Michline Khalil
- Mark Lavaway
- Lucas McIntyre
- Brandon Moore
- Stephen Mosher
- Miriam Newhouse
- Glenn Pringle
- Andrew Rosenfarb
- Janet Sellery
- Rodola Sibuma (WSPS)
- Jim Steele
- Allan Teichman
- Peter Urbanek
- Dustyn Wales
- Katrina Baran
- Lawrence Beevers
- Jim Biros
- Craig Blackley
- Rick Boychuk
- Don Brown
- Alexis Buset
- James Carnrite
- Nan Carson
- Brian Cumberland
- Adrian Dav
- Ron Dorman
- Yvette Drumgold
- Ron A. Epp
- David Feheley
- Jessica Fraser
- Keith Freiter
- Jane Gardner
- Rob Gunn
- Ivan Habel
- Ron Haney
- Alistair Hepburn
- Joe Henning
- David Hoekstra
- Chuck Homewood
- Syme Jago
- John Peter Jeffries
- Tim Jennings
- Ralph Kearney
- Ron Kresky
- Cheryl Landy
- Ron Landry
- Douglas Lemcke
- Kim Litchfield
- James Livingstone
- Andrea Lundy
- Allan Macmillan
- Mike Maskell
- Trevor McAnuff
- Doug McBoyle
- Patricia McKinna
- Peter McKinnon
- Tom McLean
- Bruce McMullan
- Jack Minacs
- Winston Morgan
- Grace Nakatsu
- Hugh Neilson
- Lisa Petro
- Amber Pennington-McCallum
- Sharon Poitras
- Chuck Renaud
- Gie Roberts
- Sandy Robinson
- Jim Roe
- Kevin Ryan
- LJ Savage
- Paul Shaw
- Julian Sleath
- D. A. Smurlick
- Jasmine Spei
- Victor Svenningson
- Shirley Third
- David R. Thornton
- Moira Verwijk (Sec. 21 Film/TV)
- John Watson
- Martin Zwicker
- Colin Wilson, MOL Advisor
- Arupa Tesolin (formerly Linda Tesolin) MOL Advisor
The following companies and associations are/were represented on the committee
- Associated Designers of Canada
- Canada’s Wonderland
- Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
- Canadian Federation of Musicians
- Community Cultural Impresarios
- Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology
- Canadian Opera Company
- Canadian Union of Public Employees
- International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees
- Living Arts Centre – Mississauga
- Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
- Mirvish Productions
- National Ballet School of Canada
- Professional Association of Canadian Theatres
- Shaw Festival
- Sky Dome/Rogers Centre
- Stratford Festival
- Theatre Ontario
- Toronto Theatre Alliance
- Young People’s Theatre
* Indicates a main committee member at the time the sub-committee was active.
Communications – Past
- James Carnrite*
- Jane Gardner*
- John Watson*
Editorial – Current
- Brandon Moore
- Miriam Newhouse*
- Jim Steele
Editorial – Past
- Katrina Baran*
- Syme Jago*
- John Peter Jeffries*
- Peter Messaline, Writer/Actor
- Sharon Poitras*
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.