On the sixth anniversary of the tragic death of British camera operator Mark Milsome and two years after Halyna Hutchins died, a survey has found nearly three-quarters of UK below-the-line crew feel their safety has been compromised at work.
The survey, which was conducted by Bectu and the Mark Milsome Foundation, queried film and TV crew about their views on health and safety training and protocols on British sets, finding that there has been little improvement since Milsome died after an accident filming the BBC and Netflix’s Black Earth Rising.
Almost three-quarters of 733 respondents said they “felt their safety or that of a colleague has been compromised at work,” while there was an overwhelming consensus that safety training and protocols need to be improved and that production companies should take ultimate responsibility for issues.
Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents identified real concerns regarding people being promoted to positions of responsibility without adequate experience or safety qualifications, and there were fears around going public, with all those who reported incidents asking to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardizing future employment.
Bectu and the Foundation called on the industry to commit to ensuring that everyone working on a production has completed a Level 2 Production Safety Passport, and that everyone in a supervisory role has completed a Level 3.5 Passport. More broadly, they called on the industry to establish norms on safety training and to work together to find solutions to a long working hours culture, which is in turn having an impact on safety.
Bectu National Secretary Spencer MacDonald said many crews have “never had even the most basic training or advice on safe working.”
Mark Milsome Foundation Chair Samantha Wainstein added: “Mark’s death serves as a poignant reminder of the critical importance of strictly adhering to health and safety guidelines. The Mark Milsome Foundation was established in his memory, and one of the core aspects of our mission is ensuring that no one on a film set dies for the sake of a shot again.”
The survey came two years after the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died on the set of Alec Baldwin movie Rust, leading to a great deal of industry introspection.
Milsome died in November 2017 in Ghana while filming Black Earth Rising. An inquest three years later found that he had died an “accidental death” but that “shortly before the execution of the stunt, the risk of Mr Milsome being harmed or fatally injured was not effectively recognised, assessed, communicated or managed.”