Returning to set: Covid-19 health and safety

How different productions are managing health and safety roles, responsibilities and regulations during the coronavirus pandemic

Four experts in the film and high-end TV industries explain there's no one-size-fits-all approach to health and safety practices in Covid-19. From bringing together people with different perspectives to optimising communication on set, dealing with emotions and adapting scripts,  each production has to work out its own way of staying safe.

The panel, chaired by Ismena Deacon, also discusses the need for new job roles that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic. Initially, health and safety advisors were asked to fill in the gaps, but it became clear that the complexities in keeping a set safe required different skill sets. Leadership and management, health and safety, logistics skills and a good understanding of how the behind-the-camera roles interrelate are all needed at different stages of the production process.

About the speakers 

Ismena Deacon is Pinewood Studios’ head of business compliance. She leads the Pinewood Covid-19 taskforces, overseeing the implementation of new procedures as well as managing health and safety, sustainability and statutory compliance. Since joining Pinewood, she has supported hundreds of productions. 

Jonathon Bradbury is head of safety at First Option. A graduate member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), he has more than 10 years of experience in safety and risk management. He was actively involved in setting up and implementing Covid-19 controls on one of the first productions to restart in the UK during the pandemic. 

Hannah Clark is health and safety consultant at First Option. She worked as an archivist at the British Library before undertaking training to become their risk and safety officer. She has since moved to work as health and safety advisor on films and television productions such as Killing Eve, Des and The Witcher. 

Andy Harriss is a health and safety advisor and the MD of MSS Safety, based at Pinewood and BBC Elstree studios. Before moving into working with productions, he worked in the military and the emergency services, and was part of a nuclear safety team. He has since worked on films including Mission Impossible, Star Wars and No Time To Die. Andy is also a CQC registered manager for Covid-19 testing and ambulance provision. 

About the event 
This is a recording of an online event that took place on 1 October 2020. The session was supported by ScreenSkills using National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of the Future Film Skills programme. It was part of the safe return to set seminars organised by ScreenSkills.  

 Take our course 
To learn how to work safely on productions, go to our online coronavirus basic awareness on production course. 

To find the latest guidance on working safely during coronavirus, go to our safe working guidance.