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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Georgia's thriving film industry means new workplace safety woes

In Georgia, the term "industry" has long been associated with the agricultural, manufacturing and automotive worlds -- but thanks to some aggressive campaigning and incentives from the state, Georgia is now home to the nation's third largest film and television industry. Only California and New York have bigger shares of the industry as a whole.

Georgia's unique landscape has lent itself to shows like The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, and the $7 billion industry shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

If you snag a job working for a production crew, special effects crew, makeup crew or even the food service crew, it's important that you pay attention to the health and safety guidelines that you're given. The long hours, intense pressure, lack of sleep and the tendency to "cut corners" in order to get things done, have always combined to make the industry more dangerous than many people realized.

However, up until 2015, film and production companies had been known to play a little loosely with the health and safety reporting rules issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). According to OSHA's records, less than a dozen injuries related to stunts and special effects had been reported in the whole previous decade! In 2015, partially in response to a death of a young woman on a production crew in Georgia, the rules were tightened considerably.

Workers may still sometimes find themselves being encouraged not to file accident reports -- and many comply because they don't want to end up blacklisted out of the industry that they find exciting. While deaths make headlines and something like a major celebrity injuring himself or herself on set is going to grab attention, a lot of ordinary workers can be injured without anyone really blinking twice -- after all, there's a lot of ways you can get hurt during production --everything from tripping over a misplaced prop to getting an electric shock from a light or sound cable.

If you are injured while working for a production crew, remember your rights and file a claim for workers' compensation. If you find that your employer isn't making it easy for you, suspect that no report was filed because your employer doesn't want to admit to a safety violation or simply need help getting approved, consider contacting an attorney for assistance.

Source: Filmsourcing, "Filmmaking Health & Safety -- Keeping Your Cast and Crew Safe," Peter Clews, accessed April 25, 2017

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