Oscar Watch: Workers Face Hazards, Even Death on the Big Screen

By Graphic Products Editorial Staff

Roll out the red carpet. The award season comes to an end with the 87th Academy Awards (Oscars) on Feb. 22 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. While movie stars and producers prepare for the paparazzi and ceremonies – industry professionals look back on workplace accidents and fatalities.

It’s not all glitz and glamor.

Film sets can be accident-prone, as workers interact with unusual and sometimes extreme elements such as elaborate and restrictive clothing, moving machinery, pyrotechnics, and vehicle collisions. Like any workplace, OSHA visits film sets and issues citations, as real-life movie tragedies occur each year.

Accidents in Film

  • January 2015 – One worker was killed and two others were injured on a film set for Martin Scorsese’s movie “Silence.” The worker died when the ceiling collapsed in an 83-year-old structure on the set, according to one of the film’s producers.
  • February 2014 – Sarah Elizabeth Jones , 27-year-old camera assistant, was struck by a freight train and killed on the set of musician Gregg Allman's biography “Midnight Rider.”  Eight other crew members were injured on set.  Jones’ death has sparked a safety movement in the film community, and Jones was featured in The Oscars In Memorandum gallery. OSHA cited Film Allman LLC of Pasadena, Calif., $74,900 in fines for one willful violation and one serious safety violation, alleging that the company exposed crew members to struck-by and fall hazards.
  • February 2014 – OSHA cited adult filmmakers Treasure Island Media $8,670 for videos which exposed workers to bloodborne pathogens.
  • March 2013 – OSHA cited Silver Bullet Productions Inc. for various violations of the state labor code stemming from the death of a 48-year-old diver on the set of Walt Disney Studio’s “The Lone Ranger.” The diver drowned while cleaning a water tank in preparation for shooting an underwater scene.

Employers can develop an OSHA Safety Management Plan, which outlines the potential hazards in the workplace, and the company policies, controls and work practices used to minimize those hazards.