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Film production dangers likely rising but little discussed

There’s been a tremendous boom in television and film production in recent years. Many states are offering their citizens as cast and crew, and New Mexico’s efforts have paid off. But it’s hard to estimate the workplace safety record in an industry as concerned about image and publicity as Hollywood.

 

Big production booms in Hollywood and New Mexico

If it feels like there’s more TV and film to watch than ever before, it’s not your imagination. The number of TV series alone has more than doubled in the last decade, and many people feel there’s just “too much to watch.”

New Mexico is seen as a success story in the film industry and among many lawmakers. This spring, the state more than doubled its annual spending cap on incentives for the film industry, although some argued for the cap to be eliminated entirely. No cap does apply to production companies that buy or lease facilities for 10 or more years.

More cable shows mean more cables on workplace floors

While the dangers on film sets are many, they are little discussed, possibly because cast, crew, unions, producers and almost everyone else in the industry fear losing their positions by speaking too frankly.

One provider of film production insurance claims 20 to 40 severe injuries or deaths occur during film production annually. As the most common sources of workplace injuries in film production they cite tripping hazards due to ropes, cables on the ground or floor and wiring in crew workspaces. Falling equipment and insufficient or non-existent safety equipment are also concerns.

While not universal, it’s hardly unheard of for film sets to have unreasonably tight schedules and budgets. Worker health and safety are among the many corners that may be cut, even as incentives escalate to provide audiences with ever more spectacular pyrotechnics and dangerous-looking conditions.

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