Water Hazards

Safety Bulletin


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Extreme care should be taken regarding dangerous marine life, including reptiles.
  4. When necessary for personnel to work in fast-moving rivers, downstream safety pickup personnel and safety equipment should be stationed for downstream emergency rescue.
  5. Where boating traffic is anticipated, all precautions, including those mandated by the appropriate authorities, will be enforced. (See Safety Bulletin: Boating and Watercraft)
  6. 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.
  7. All personnel working in or around water shall be provided with the appropriate water safety devices. (See Safety Bulletin: Diving Operations)
  8. The Producer should take steps to prevent hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and hypothermia (reduced body temperature).
  9. All personnel should be advised to keep all potential contaminants away from the water, including paints, thinners, repellents, gasoline, oils, etc.
  10. Provisions for post-immersion washing should be available.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. All electrical connections should be made by, or under the supervision of, a qualified person.

Related Bulletins

Boating and Watercraft

Safety Bulletin


These guidelines are intended to provide recommendations for safety on and around boats and other watercraft. Watercrafts may include, but are not limited to: ships, boats, personal watercraft and other floating vessels.


  1. The production should designate a responsible person to be in charge of all production watercraft. The production also should determine whether the scope, action, or complexity of any boating sequence requires a Marine Coordinator.
  2. The Marine Coordinator or responsible person shall pre-inspect the proposed water routes or paths of travel for underwater obstructions, i.e. cables, reefs rocks, trees and pilings.
  3. Each boat operator should have an effective means of communication.
  4. To the extent practicable, cast and crew should be informed in advance that they will be working on or around watercraft. Cast and crew who cannot work in this environment should advise production management and/or their Department Head.
  5. Cast or crew members susceptible to sea sickness should consult their physician in advance and should advise the set medic.
  6. The responsible person or Marine Coordinator will establish a means by which to monitor and communicate weather and water conditions.
  7. The production should be aware that bodies of water can have multiple authorities having jurisdiction with specific regulations related to watercraft activities. The production should identify these laws and regulations.
  8. The production will establish work procedures to be followed while working on or around watercraft, including procedures for abandoning the watercraft; responding to fire, collision, and general alarms; and rescuing personnel. In establishing these procedures, the production should consider the manufacturer’s operating and safety guidelines, and the scope, action, and complexity of the planned boating sequences.
  9. The responsible person or Marine Coordinator will determine who will be assigned the responsibility for conducting a head count. A head count should be conducted when the amount of cast and crew, the size and design of the vessel, the intended operations aboard the vessel, or the environmental conditions make an immediate visual assessment of cast and crew impractical.
  10. Each watercraft shall be equipped with all United States Coast Guard required safety equipment for the vessel type and size, including approved Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) for each person aboard the watercraft.
  11. The responsible person or Marine Coordinator shall check the number, rating, and condition of all PFDs and, if required, rescue devices and safety equipment needed on board and dockside.
  12. The responsible person or Marine Coordinator should determine the occupancy and weight limits for each watercraft. Only essential personnel and equipment should be on board.
  13. The responsible person or Marine Coordinator will approve how equipment will be rigged and secured to the watercraft.
  14. All shore power and portably supplied AC power shall be protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (“GFCI”).
  15. The watercraft owner/operator should pre-approve generator use. Generators need to be secured, and exhaust properly vented. Generators also must be equipped with a charged and readily accessible fire extinguisher.
  16. The responsible person or Marine Coordinator needs to approve all areas where fuel is stored and used.

Prior to Boarding

  1. Safety Meetings – The First Assistant Director (1st A.D.), along with the responsible person or Marine Coordinator, shall conduct a safety meeting with all cast and crew. Safety meeting topics may include, but are not limited to: work procedures; emergency procedures; and known or potential hazards.
  2. All persons should wear closed-toe, non-skid, rubber-soled shoes when working on watercraft.
  3. Avoid clothing, jewelry or loose items that can get caught in machinery or rigging, or impede watercraft transfers.
  4. Wear clothing appropriate to the anticipated environmental conditions, such as a brimmed hat, sunglasses, and long-sleeved shirt. Apply and reapply sunblock as needed.
  5. A head count shall be taken when applicable, the Marine Coordinator or his/her designee shall conduct a head count as cast and crew board the vessel. A similar head count shall be conducted upon disembarking.


  1. Stand clear of the watercraft and away from the dock edge during docking procedures. Do not attempt to board until the watercraft is secured to the dock and a member of the watercraft crew gives instructions and permission to board.
  2. Never place arms, legs or any other part of the body between the watercraft and dock, between two watercrafts, or between the lines used to secure watercrafts.
  3. When boarding, only the designated boarding area or device shall be used. Do not step over rails, gunwales (side of boat), or lifelines without permission.
  4. Do not block access to the watercraft’s rigging, ladders, or emergency-access hatches. Stow gear and equipment in pre-approved areas only.

Once on Board

  1. When underway or anchored or docked in choppy water, keep one hand free at all times to hold onto the watercraft or railing.
  2. PFDs and other floatation devices must be available for all cast/crew members. If you are instructed to put on a PFD, do so and be sure it is properly secured.
  3. Only personnel designated by the responsible person or Marine Coordinator should operate the watercraft’s machinery, valves, switches, and other equipment.
  4. No one should straddle the gunwale or sit with their legs dangling over the side of the watercraft, unless it is required for production or vehicle operation and the necessary safety precautions are in place.
  5. Always ensure an emergency escape route is available, including while positioning and securing gear and equipment.
  6. Do not throw any waste overboard.
  7. The private quarters, engine room, and the wheelhouse/bridge are off limits to the cast and crew, unless approved.
  8. Smoking and open flames are not allowed, unless specifically required for a scene and necessary safety precautions are in place.
  9. Marine toilets may not be as efficient as those on land. Do not flush objects other than approved toilet tissue.
  10. Cast and crew should be aware of sudden and drastic movement from moving parts, i.e. overhead booms, winches, additional rigging lines, etc., which may hit and injure an unsuspecting person.
  11. Performers requested to operate watercraft on-camera should be provided appropriate training. When a performer is operating the watercraft, emergency procedures to reestablish operational control of the on-camera watercraft should be in place.

Sea Sickness

  1. If you feel nauseous, do not go below the deck. Instead, stay on deck in the fresh air, look at the horizon line, and contact the set medic immediately.
  2. Eat soda crackers or plain bread and drink soda water when sea-sickness symptoms are present.
  3. Cast and crew who have taken sea sickness medicine should promptly advise the set medic.

Boat-to-Boat Transfers

  1. Do not attempt to transfer until watercraft personnel have designated the transfer points and have given the command to transfer.
  2. Stand clear of the transfer-craft, tie-up area until the transfer craft is secured to the watercraft.
  3. Prior to transferring to another watercraft, allow watercraft personnel to assist in the transfer of gear and equipment. Use two hands to steady yourself when transferring to the other watercraft.

Boat-to-Beach Transfers

  1. Because proper timing is essential for the watercraft operator to safely enter and exit from a beach, the watercraft operator will advise the cast and crew on boat- to-beach transfer procedures.

When at Anchor or at Sea

  1. If you see someone fall into the water, yell, “MAN OVERBOARD,” as loudly as possible and point in the direction of that person. DO NOT take your eyes off that person. Continue pointing until watercraft personnel take over.
  2. Stay out of the water, unless you are part of a planned scene.

Related Bulletins

Diving Operations

Safety Bulletin


The following recommendations apply when diving operations are utilized in production. When applicable, refer to Safety Bulletin: Boating and Watercraft, Safety Bulletin: Water Hazards, and Safety Bulletin: Portable Power Distribution Systems for additional guidance.

  1. The employer or a person appointed by the employer will designate a person-in- charge of dive operations. For the purposes of this bulletin only, this person shall be known as Dive Operations Coordinator (“DOC”). This person shall be in charge of all aspects of the diving operation and shall be at the dive location or on deck at the dive site during diving operations. All diving operations shall conform to all applicable laws, rules and regulations, such as Title 8, Section 6050 et. seq. of the California Code of Regulations and Title 29, Section 1910.401 et seq. of the Federal Code of Regulations. In the event of a conflict between this bulletin and the applicable law, rule or regulation, such laws, rules or regulations must be followed.
  2. The selection of an underwater location shall depend upon the safety and health conditions of the location as determined by the DOC, with input from one or more of the following individuals: the Director, First Assistant Director, Director of Photography, safety professional or stunt coordinator. When appropriate, the DOC and the Chief Lighting Technician shall meet and ensure that all electrical equipment in close proximity to diving operations pose no hazards.
  3. The employer is responsible for verifying that dive team members are certified divers who have been trained in the type of diving, equipment used, and in the environment in which they will be working. For purposes of this bulletin, a certified diver is one who holds a current and valid certification card issued by a nationally or internationally recognized certification organization. There may be an exception where it is necessary to use a non-certified cast or crew member for a particular setup or scene. That cast or crew member must be under the direct underwater supervision of a dive team member with the appropriate experience and qualification (e.g., certified scuba instructor), designated by the DOC. The cast or crew member must have received training sufficient in the opinion of the dive team member and DOC to perform the job required.
  4. The DOC shall establish and make available an Emergency Action Plan, including the nearest location of a recompression chamber, proper methods of transportation to that chamber, and emergency contact information.
  5. Prior to each day’s diving operations, appropriate safeguards should be considered and communicated to all involved in the underwater activities.
  6. The DOC shall brief dive team members of dive objectives, hazards, environmental conditions, any modifications to diving or emergency procedures likely to affect the safety of the diving operations, and the necessity of immediately reporting any physical problems or adverse physiological effects, including symptoms of pressure-related injuries.
  7. Properly trained and equipped safety diver(s) shall be available as determined by the DOC. For purposes of this bulletin, a safety diver is a diver at the dive location, not in the dive rotation, who is capable of rendering immediate assistance to a diver in the water.
  8. The employer shall ensure that adequate quantities of medical oxygen (100% O2) with appropriate methods of administration, and personnel trained in the use of such oxygen are immediately available during the diving operations.
  9. A diver shall be accompanied in the water by another diver throughout the diving operation (a “buddy” system).
  10. To avoid decompression illness, divers shall wait the appropriate period of time, as determined by the DOC, between dive operations and travel at altitude (including travel by air and land).
  11. The DOC shall maintain a master log, which includes diver name, entry time, dive depth, and exit time. Individual logs shall be kept on behalf of all divers. Individual and master logs shall be reconciled on a dive-by-dive basis.
  12. A functional underwater diver recall system shall be made available, tested and demonstrated on site prior to dive operations.
  13. All dive equipment shall be inspected prior to each dive.
  14. The employer shall have standby breathing equipment and safety diver(s) immediately available underwater when the possibility of trapped divers exists.
  15. Each diver shall have a functional depth gauge, an underwater time-keeping device, an alternate air supply, and a pressure gauge for monitoring SCUBA tank pressure. Each diver shall also have the capability of achieving and maintaining positive buoyancy.
  16. Diving tanks, when transported to and from location and when not in use, will be secured in such a manner as to prevent them from rolling or allowing the valves to be struck by other objects. When not in use, diving tanks shall be stored in the shade.
  17. All dive team members shall be trained and current in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), diver rescue techniques, and diving-related first aid.
  18. All dive team members must have passed a current (within the preceding twelve months) physical examination, have been declared medically fit to engage in diving operations, and be approved for the dive by the DOC.