This bulletin addresses special safety considerations when working on locations where various indigenous critters may be present. Although the types of critters may vary from region to region, basic safeguards should be taken to prevent serious injury or illness to cast and crew members.
Critter awareness starts during the initial search for locations. The location manager, his or her department representative, production management, studio safety department representative and/or any medical personnel assigned to the project should consider safety precautions when pre-planning and preparing to use a location that may contain some type of indigenous critters, including identifying the type(s) of critters present, the location of nearby hospitals or medical facilities, and the availability of any anti-venom that may be required. Pre-planning may also include contacting the local zoo to see if they have the anti-venom and to alert them you will be working in the area, especially if the production will be working with animal actors that could escape. Contact should be made with local wildlife authorities such as State Fish and Game as to the protective status of indigenous critters in the area.
It is production’s responsibility to assure the safety of the indigenous critters in the filming area, and to consult the agency or persons responsible for the removal of wildlife from location sets. Any such indigenous critters that remain on the set are subject to American Humane Association (AHA) Guidelines and Procedures, including but not limited to:
Section 809.1 which states, if native animals are not to remain on the set, they must be carefully removed, relocated, or properly housed and cared for, then safely returned to their habitat after filming is complete. Only qualified and trained personnel should attempt removal of nests or hives.
Section 809.2 which states, a production may not intentionally harm and must take precautionary measures to protect nets, dens, caves, caverns, etc.
Section 809.3 which states, care must be taken to ensure that non-indigenous animals are removed from the area after the production has completed filming.
Animal actors brought to a location can be affected by other indigenous critters: this could range from distraction to life threatening situations or the transmittal of diseases between critters. Notification should be provided to the professional trainer/supplier of the animal actors.
If you have additional questions regarding the AHA’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media, contact the Film and Television Unit at (818) 501-0123.
General Safety Precautions
While working around critters, it is advisable to wear long pants with the pant legs tucked into socks or boots. A good boot above the ankle will provide better protection. It is also advisable to wear a long-sleeved shirt, dress in layers and wear light colors. Generally, critters are dark in color; they are spotted easily against a light background.
Avoid heavy perfumes or after-shaves as they attract some pests. Apply repellents according to label instructions on the product. Applying repellents to clothing appears to be most effective.
If a pesticide is being used to control pests, follow manufacturers’ instructions including the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) as noted on the product label and/or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for persons applying the product or entering the treated area. Allow time for dissipation prior to using a treated location. The MSDS must be available to all cast and crew upon request.
In the case of bites or stings, serious allergic reactions are possible. If you have any known allergies, notify the set medic and/or safety representative prior to or when you first arrive at the location.
If you are bitten or stung by an indigenous critter, immediately contact the set medic. If the encounter with the indigenous critter involves a life threatening situation, call 911.
For additional precautions or questions, contact the studio safety representative, local health department, set medic or local experts in the area you will be working in.
Since there are numerous types of critters, there is no way this Safety Bulletin can cover all of the various types. The following are some of the more commonly encountered critters on locations.
Are red, brown or black in color and have a three-segment body with six legs
They are found everywhere and their bites are mild to painful
Special precautions should be taken when working around red fire ants to keep from being bitten
Are red, brown, or black in color and have a hard-shelled body with eight legs
Some types of ticks are very small in size and difficult to detect
They are found in open fields, overgrown vegetation, wooded areas, and on or near animals
Ticks live on deer, mice, and birds
Do not attempt to remove ticks by using lighted cigarettes, matches, nail polish, or vaseline.
If bitten, seek medical attention immediately. Ticks are known to carry many types of diseases such as tick paralysis, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Are tan, brown or black in color and have a hard-shelled body with eight legs, claws and a barbed tail
When a scorpion stings, it whips its tail forward over its head
They can be found under rocks or fallen wood and are most common in the desert and southwest
All stings are painful, however, very few are fatal
4. Stinging, Flying Insects (Bees, Hornets and Wasps)
Are black, yellow, or red in color and have a three-segment body with wings, and a tail stinger
They can be found everywhere and can produce a mild to painful sting which causes allergic reactions in some
If stung, seek medical attention and notify the set medic. People who are allergic should carry reaction medication
Stinging flying insects are generally dormant at night with the exception of mosquitoes
Identification of Africanized killer bees is very difficult. Remember this type of bee is very aggressive and will attack in swarms. Extreme care should be taken if a hive is located.
5. Biting Insects
Mosquitoes and Flies
There are many different species of mosquitoes and flies in the United States. They can be found in wooded areas, near or on animals, refuse areas, or water, particularly standing water.
These insects can carry various types of diseases. Malaria and dengue fever are not just found in tropical locations, it has been found in the United States. Asian “tiger mosquitoes” have been found in the Los Angeles area and are known to carry dengue fever.
Are red, tiny and smear red when crushed
They are prevalent throughout the southern part of the United States
They live on the ground, around shrubs and plants, or anywhere vegetation will protect them
They prefer shade and moist areas, but will forage for food at great distances
They can also detect a food source from a great distance
Chigger bites produce blisters by irritating the skin. Use chigger bite ointment to remove the itch and promote healing
6. Poisonous Spiders
Black Widow Spider
Are black in color and have a two-segment body with eight legs and a red hour glass design on the abdomen
They are prominent in warm climates and prefer cool, dry, and dark places
They can produce painful to fatal bites
Brown Recluse Spider
Are brown in color, have a two-segment body with eight legs and a violin shaped design on the abdomen
They can produce painful to fatal bites
Pit Vipers (Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, etc.)
They come in sixteen (16) distinctive varieties
There are numerous subspecies and color variations, but the jointed rattles on the tail can positively identify all
While most are concentrated in the southwest U.S., they have extended north, east, and south in diminishing numbers and varieties so that every contiguous state has one or more varieties
Pit Vipers produce painful to fatal bites and do not have to be coiled to strike. For example, a rattlesnake can strike out for one-half of its body length
Other Exotic Snakes
When working in other foreign locations that have various other exotic snakes indigenous to the area (cobra, black mamba, etc.), these snakes produce fatal bites; therefore, the location of anti-venom is extremely important
Different anti-venom will be required for various species
Consult with local experts and governmental authorities
If Bitten by a Snake
Seek immediate medical attention
Attempt to note the time and area of body bitten
Immediately immobilize the body part affected
Do not apply a tourniquet, incise the wound, or attempt to suck out the venom
Do not allow the victim to engage in physical activity
Tips for Snake Avoidance
Always look where you are putting your feet and hands
Never reach into a hole, crevices in rock piles, under rocks, or dark places where a snake may be hiding. If you need to turn over rocks, use a stick
Attempt to stay out of tall grass, if you can. Walk in cleared spots as much as possible. Step on logs, not over them so that you can first see whether there is a rattlesnake concealed below on the far side
Be cautious when picking up equipment, coiled cables, and bags left on the ground
Never pick up a snake or make quick moves if you see or hear a rattle. If bitten by a snake, remember what it looked like. Various snakes require different anti-venoms
Remember that rattlers are protectively colored (camouflaged)
On hot summer days, rattlesnakes can become nocturnal and come out at night when you do not expect it. Care should be taken when working at night after a hot summer day
Other types of snakes indigenous to the United States are cottonmouth and coral snakes. These snakes can produce fatal bites and can become very aggressive
8. Alligator and Crocodiles
Can be found in various waterways around the world
They have been known to attack large animals and humans and will exit the water to attack prey on the shoreline
They can be found in both fresh and salt water
Both the alligator and crocodile have been known to ambush their victims
9. Sharks, Sea Urchins, Rays, Scorpion Fish, Jellyfish and Other Exotic Marine Life
When working around water environment, you may contact and consult with local experts, Studio safety representatives or medical staff to become familiar with the critters in or around the water environment in question.
Locations that may involve the use of alleyways, beneath bridges, tunnels, abandoned buildings, or other structures, may involve potential contact with rats, squirrels and other rodents
They can carry various types of diseases, which can be contracted if bitten by one of these critters
Refer to the Safety Bulletin on “Preparing Urban Locations” for precautions and clean up of locations that may have these types of rodents present
These guidelines are recommendations for safely engaging in rail work, i.e., working onboard trains, in railroad yards, subways and elevated systems, or in the vicinity of railroad equipment.
Railroads are private property requiring the railroad’s authorization to enter. Once authorization is given, everyone on scene must follow the railroad’s safety procedures to reduce hazards.
There are strict rules governing rail work. These rules must be communicated to and followed by all cast and crew. Check with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and with the owner/operator for local regulations, specific guidelines, and required training. Additionally, each railroad property or transportation agency may have its own rules and training requirements. In many cases, everyone must receive training.
PRIOR TO THE START OF RAIL WORK
Prior to starting rail work, the Production, in conjunction with the railroad representative, will conduct a safety meeting with all involved personnel to acquaint cast and crew members with possible workplace risks.
Consult with the appropriate Department Heads to determine if equipment, such as lighting, grip equipment, props, set dressing, electric generators or other equipment will be used. When using these items, ensure that they are properly secured and their use has been authorized by the railroad representative.
Plan proper ventilation and exhaust when using electric generators. Electrical bonding may be necessary.
Ensure conditions and weight loads of the work area and adjacent roads used for camera cars, camera cranes, horses, etc. are adequate for the intended work.
WORKING IN A RAIL YARD
Always follow the instructions of the designated railroad representative, and any written work or safety rules distributed by production.
Remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Locomotives, railroad cars and other equipment may move without warning on any track in either direction. Never assume a train will be traveling in a particular or “normal” direction on any track.
If working around electrified train equipment, be aware of any “third rails” or overhead lines present in the area. A third rail is an electrified line that presents an immediate life threatening hazard. Never approach, step on or touch an energized third rail. For more detailed information see “Working on or Around Electrified Trains or Systems” below.
ANSI compliant high visibility vests are to be worn at all times. For specific information on vests please refer to AMPTP Safety Bulletin #21, Guidelines for Appropriate Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment.
Ankle-supported, reinforced-toe, work boots/shoes are recommended. Sandals, sneakers, and running shoes should not be worn.
Ask the designated railroad representative where to store production equipment. Extra care should be taken when storing hazardous or flammable materials.
DO NOT RELY ON OTHERS TO WARN YOU of approaching locomotives, rail cars or other equipment. Even if personnel have been assigned to provide warning, stay alert. You may not hear or see the warning.
When whistle or flag signals are to be used to communicate, everyone must be familiar with their meaning. The railroad representative or 1st AD shall educate cast and crew as to the meaning of these signals prior to commencement of work.
Listen for the sound of approaching locomotives or rail cars, as well as audible signals, such as bells or whistles. Trains typically use such signaling devices before moving, but do not assume that such warnings will be sounded.
Be aware that the train is significantly wider than the track’s width. 15 feet from either side of the tracks is considered a safe distance. Closer distances need to be approved by the designated railroad representative.
Always face moving trains as they pass.
Never sit, walk or stand on the rails, ties, switch gear, guardrails or other parts of the track or structure. Be aware that tracks can move.
Before crossing tracks look backwards and at parallel tracks. Once determined to be clear, cross immediately.
Do not place any objects on the rails, switches, guardrails or other parts of the track structure. If the performance of any of these activities is required for production purposes, specific permission must be obtained from the designated railroad representative and additional safety precautions may be required.
Whenever you are walking, always face in the direction in which you are proceeding. Be aware of possible trip hazards and debris. If it is necessary to turn your head or look backward, stop and look before proceeding.
When using radios/cell phones or referring to paperwork, step away from the tracks, stop walking, and stand still until you are finished.
Do not operate switches or other railroad equipment.
Take extra precautions if rain, snow or ice is present. Snow may conceal trip hazards. Avoid walking or working under icicles. Walkways, platforms, steps, etc., should be clear of ice and snow.
RIDING RAILROAD EQUIPMENT
Riding on equipment should be restricted to essential personnel.
Never attempt to get on or off moving equipment, unless authorized by the designated railroad representative.
Only authorized personnel may ride on the side of a locomotive or rail car.
Remain alert for conditions that can cause abrupt changes in speed, e.g., train braking, changes in grade, wet or icy tracks, and entering or leaving a rail yard or train station.
Be alert for conditions that can cause slack action (e.g. train brake, change in grade or change in speed). Protect yourself by remaining seated and with both feet on the ground. If duties require you to stand, keep your feet shoulder width apart, one foot slightly ahead of the other, with hands braced on the wall or grab bar.
WORKING ON, INSIDE OR UNDER RAILROAD EQUIPMENT
Remain alert for the unexpected movement of equipment.
Observe the condition of equipment before using it. Look for sharp edges or other potential hazards including loose, bent or missing stirrups, ladder rungs and brake platforms.
Face equipment as you ascend or descend equipment. Look for obstructions before ascending or descending.
Dismount or mount equipment only when it is stopped, unless authorized by the designated railroad representative.
When moving from one side to the other of a stopped train, you may safely cross in front of the first locomotive or behind the final car. Crossing mid-train may only be done on locomotives or rail cars that are equipped with handrails and end platforms. Never cross the tracks between or under cars, unless authorized.
Do not move from one rail car to another rail car while the train is in motion, unless authorized by the designated railroad representative.
Cross between passenger cars by holding on to railings and grab bars. Remain aware of walking surface conditions.
Blue Flag Rules are special rules to inhibit train movement. These rules protect personnel working on a car, train or track. Anyone can request a “Blue Flag” to be set by the designated railroad representative. Once the blue flag is set, the train cannot move for any reason until the blue flag is removed.
WORKING ON OR AROUND ELECTRIFIED TRAINS OR SYSTEMS
Transit systems and trains are commonly powered by electricity. The most common methods of electric power come in the form of electrified “third rails” or overhead catenary lines.
Voltages can range from 600-V or 750-V for electric third rail systems to over 14,000-V for overhead catenary systems.
Never touch an electric third rail or any supporting electrical equipment. Always be aware of electric third rails and always assume they are energized until verified otherwise.
A safe clearance distance as determined by the rail system operator and approved by the designated railroad representative must be maintained when working in the vicinity of an electric third rail. If it is absolutely necessary to work within the established safe distance to the third rail and the possibility exists that personnel or equipment may contact the rail, appropriate measures as determined by the designated railroad representative must be implemented to eliminate the electrical hazard. Appropriate measures may include methods such as, de-energizing, locking-out, and grounding the third rail; covering the third rail with rubber mats approved by the rail system operator; etc. All third rail protective measures should be performed by approved railroad personnel.
Always assume that an overhead catenary line is energized until verified otherwise. ONLY RAILROAD OR ELECTRIC COMPANY PERSONNEL MAY DE-ENERGIZE AND VERIFY CATENARY LINES.
When overhead catenary lines cannot be de-energized, a clearance distance minimum of 10-feet must be maintained at all times, unless approved by the designated railroad representative. Be mindful of any booms, ladders, sticks, or production equipment that could inadvertently make contact with the overhead lines.
Never touch any train equipment that is attached to the overhead catenary line. The “pantograph” extends from the train to the overhead line. This piece of equipment should always be considered live as it carries current. Never touch the pantograph, even if it is in the retracted position.
SUBWAYS AND ELEVATED TRAIN SYSTEMS
Subways and elevated trains present unique hazards and caution must be taken at all times when working within tunnels and on elevated tracks.
Never enter a subway tunnel, elevated track, or other prohibited area, without authorization and clearance from the designated railroad representatives. Do not touch any equipment within the tunnels or elevated tracks as they may present numerous hazards, such as electricity.
Be aware of exit and escape routes as well as your surroundings. Listen for the sounds of approaching trains. Always face and watch approaching trains on adjacent tracks.
Know the location of the electric third rail and/or overhead catenary lines. Be aware that catenary lines in tunnels may be much lower than on above- ground systems. In this case, use caution when carrying equipment.
Be mindful of insects and animals, including rodents, which are commonly present in subway tunnels.
When working on elevated structures, determine if guardrails or other appropriate fall protection systems are needed.
SPECIAL NOTE ON AUTOMATED TRAIN SYSTEMS
Some transit systems, (e.g., airport and amusement park people movers) are automated, meaning that they do not rely on onboard operators or engineers. Automated systems present unique hazards as there is usually no person on board to warn or stop the train if someone or something is on the track.
NEVER enter into an automated system when it is operational. If the production requires the filming of an automated system, a safety plan must be developed with the system owner/operator to ensure safety of all parties.
Urban locations such as alleyways, beneath bridges, tunnels, abandoned structures, storm channels and other locations may present health risks and other hazards, which can be mitigated prior to the Production Company prepping and/or shooting at the location. These guidelines are intended to provide recommendations to prepare urban locations for filming.
The Production Company should conduct an assessment of the urban location to identify possible hazards to the health and safety of cast and crew. Potential hazards may include:
Biohazards: Human or animal waste, mold, fungus, bacteria, body fluids, vermin, insects, and other potential biohazards.
Chemical Hazards: Asbestos, lead paint, solvents, insecticides, herbicides, and other potentially harmful chemicals.
Physical Hazards: Rubbish, refuse, abandoned materials, broken glass, scrap metals, discarded needles, other waste or utility/electrical lines that can create a potential physical hazard.
The Production Company should evaluate the type and scope of hazards and, if necessary, create a plan to mitigate the hazards prior to the crew’s arrival at the location.
Production should secure, if necessary, the services of an industrial hygienist or other appropriate professional capable of conducting necessary analysis to determine the type and scope of hazards present at the location.
The Production Company should take necessary steps to minimize exposure of cast and crew to the aforementioned hazards. Such steps may include, but are not limited to, power washing, steam cleaning, removal of refuse and rubbish, fumigation, and use of chemical disinfectant(s). Because of the nature of such locations, production should consider securing the location during and after mitigation procedures.
In some cases, the type and/or scope of hazards present at the urban location may necessitate the use of a licensed contractor certified in the proper handling and removal of the offending substances and materials.
Electrical cables, props, and other equipment used at the location should be protected where practical. Cables should be supported off the ground whenever possible.
Protective ground cover, such as layout board or other material, should be positioned in work areas to minimize contact with potentially affected areas. Props and equipment that come in contact with the ground should be disinfected. Washing facilities should be available for the cast and crew – who should be reminded to wash periodically and before meals. Long pants, long sleeved shirts, and hard-soled shoes are recommended to minimize contact. Proper personal protective equipment should be provided and used.
If possible, the urban location should be locked-off and secured to maintain the cleanliness of the set. If that is not practical, Production should conduct daily cleaning activities before crew call to remove any sources of exposure or hazards that accumulated during the Production Company’s absence.
Some mitigation procedures may cause objections from local authorities or the community. The Production Company should first check with local agencies to insure that their preparation activities do not violate local ordinances.
The following procedures are recommended for all water work, including, but not limited to ponds, rivers, lakes, swamps, bogs, oceans, pools, and tanks, or any other unduly wet work environment.
When working on a body of water is contemplated, the Producer should identify and make known prior to actual filming, all available knowledge regarding currents; and natural and man-made hazards, including sub-surface objects, underwater life and contamination. Upstream activities, such as dams, waste disposal sites, agriculture, chemical plant dumping sites, flash flood dangers, etc. should also be evaluated. If a potential safety hazard is found to exist, the Producer should take appropriate steps to mitigate the hazard.
Prior to personnel entering a body of water, a determination should be made that the water quality meets the applicable regulatory standards for “recreational full body contact.” This determination may be made by one or more of the following: Direct water sampling, contact local health authorities and/or detailed other knowledge of the uses and water sources supplying the body of water. Water sampling results and acceptable water quality criteria shall be made available upon request. Note: When it is determined that a body of water is contaminated or hazardous, the contamination or hazard should be neutralized or the site shall be avoided.
Extreme care should be taken regarding dangerous marine life, including reptiles.
When necessary for personnel to work in fast-moving rivers, downstream safety pickup personnel and safety equipment should be stationed for downstream emergency rescue.
All personnel scheduled for water work shall be notified in advance via the Call Sheet. Personnel who are uncomfortable working in or around water should notify their supervisor prior to that day’s call.
The Producer should take steps to prevent hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and hypothermia (reduced body temperature).
All personnel should be advised to keep all potential contaminants away from the water, including paints, thinners, repellents, gasoline, oils, etc.
Provisions for post-immersion washing should be available.
When necessary, the Producer should implement a plan to account for personnel in the water, such as a “buddy” or a check in/check out system.
Special care must be used whether AC or DC electricity is used in or around water. All electrical cables and lights in close proximity to water shall be properly secured to prevent tipping and falling. All wiring, electrical equipment and devices that will, or may be, subject to a submerged condition should be approved for underwater use, be watertight, have no exposed live connections and be constructed such that there is no shock hazard under any likely conditions of use. All applicable provisions of the National Electric Code should be followed. Local regulations may be more restrictive and should be consulted.
When lighting, electrical distribution, or any electrically powered equipment is used in close proximity to water or can make contact with water, the use of GFCI should be evaluated by a qualified person. This includes all areas where water hazards exist. When persons, wardrobe, props, or equipment are wet, the need for GFCI protection should be evaluated. GFCIs should not be used on circuits where removal of power may create a greater hazard, such as airbags, decelerators, emergency egress lighting, etc.
All electrical connections should be made by, or under the supervision of, a qualified person.
This bulletin addresses special safety considerations when working outdoors and exposed to nasty plants. Although the types of nasty plants may vary from region to region, basic safeguards should be taken to prevent serious injury or illness to crew members working at locations where these plants grow.
These plants (e.g., Poison Oak, Poison Ivy and Poison Sumac) cause an allergic reaction in about 90% of all adults. The oleoresin in the juice of these plants causes dermatitis in allergic people from contact from their clothes, tools, equipment, pet fur, or smoke of burning plants. The fluid from the resulting blisters does not contain oleoresin, and cannot cause dermatitis.
These irritating plants normally grow along fence rows, waste areas, open and cut over forest lands, stream banks, swamps, ponds and rocky canyons. In the fall, their leaves turn to brilliant red.
NOTE: People who have allergic reaction to these types of plants should notify production company and/or set medic prior to entering an area that is known to have these types of plants.
Clothing Guidelines – in areas where nasty plants are likely:
Wear long pants with your pant legs tucked into your socks or boots. A good boot above your ankle can help protect you better.
Wear long sleeves and a loose fitting shirt, and a ventilated hat.
Cover as much skin as you can.
All contaminated clothing should be washed separately with detergent.
Wear protective gloves when handling.
Wear practical change clothes and shoes before leaving the location. Work clothes should be placed in a bag and taken home for laundering.
General Safety Precautions
Wash often. Wash hands before eating, smoking or applying cosmetics.
Identify the areas that may contain the plants and use the proper safeguards to avoid them.
Both Poison Oak and Poison Ivy are readily identified by their trademarked three- leaf pattern.
Poison Ivy has its three leaflets with pointed tips, while Poison Oak has its three leaflets with rounded tips.
Leaflets range from a half-inch (1/2”) to two (2”) inches long.
Flowers are greenish white, about one-quarter (1/4”) inch across and are borne in clusters on a slender stem.
The fruits are white, berry-like, glossy and dry when ripe; about one-sixth (1/6”) of an inch in diameter in Poison Ivy and slightly larger in Poison Oak.
All parts of Poison Oak and Ivy are poisonous year round, except the pollen.
Burning is not recommended; as inhaling dust and ash from the smoke can result in poisoning of the lungs that can require hospitalization.
The poisonous sap is carried in the roots, stem, leaves and fruit.
The plant is bruised, the sap is released.
It is easier to contract the dermatitis in the spring and summer due to the tender nature of the leaves.
Sap may be deposited on the skin by direct contact with the plant or by contact with contaminated objects such as shoes, clothing, tools, equipment and animals.
The interval between contact and the appearance of dermatitis will vary considerably.
Most people will develop dermatitis 24 to 48 hours after contact.
Blistering will follow moderate itching or burning sensation.
Blisters usually rupture and are followed by oozing of serum and subsequent crusting.
Healed areas often remain hypersensitive to further contact for several months.
Although extremely irritating, most cases disappear in a week to 10 days.
Thoroughly wash the skin with soap and water (brown soap is best)
Apply anti-itch lotion, such as Calamine or Caladryl.
In severe dermatitis, cool wet dressings or compresses will be required. Heat releases histamines, which cause the intense itching.
A physician should examine severe rashes, especially those covering large areas or accompanied by abnormal body temperatures.
Medical treatment is most effective if applied before the oozing sores appear.
All exposures should be reported to the set medic.
Other Poisonous Plants
Other plants that can cause mild to severe dermatitis include: