Tight budgets, time constraints and competing deadlines are just some of the reasons why film and television workers in Queensland suffer a high rate of workplace injury.
According to a new report from Griffith University, sponsored by the Pacific Film and Television Commission, more than half of Queensland film and television workers carry out their jobs in unsafe environments.
In an interim report released to the industry today, Griffith Film School Senior Lecturer Nicholas Oughton said his research revealed a range of deficiencies in occupational health and safety (OHS) practices across the industry.
“Less than 40 per cent of industry workers indicated they were working in an OHS compliant area,” Mr Oughton said.
The report highlights procedural and organisational deficiencies including a lack of OHS knowledge and standards, a failure to conduct risk assessments, a high rate of work-induced injury and low workforce morale.
“The majority of film, television and video businesses employ fewer than five people, and operate in highly competitive, volatile and fluctuating environments. This means OHS can suffer at the expense of profit or survival,” Mr Oughton said.
In a survey of 209 industry workers, lower back pain was experienced by 46 per cent of respondents with the greatest incidence by editors (60 per cent), directors (50 per cent), and camera operators and producers (47 per cent).
“Lower back pain is commonly reported by 30 to 35 per cent of workers in all industries, but the high incidence of lower back pain in Queensland’s film, television and new media industry is particularly concerning,” Mr Oughton said.
The survey also showed that art department workers and make-up artists experienced a high incidence of hay fever and allergies, possibly due to the large and varied amounts of chemicals used in those departments. Other symptoms included headaches with the greatest incidence reported by editors, sound recordists, producers and directors.
“This may be related to long periods spent seated at inappropriately designed workstations. It may also be a cause of lower back disorders.”
The report showed that studies in other states reflected some of the same findings.
Mr Oughton said most industry practitioners were aware of the problems and believed that incorporating an OHS program into workplaces would increase rather than impede productivity.
The final report, to be released in July will provide industry-endorsed strategies to improve occupational safety and legislative compliance in the Queensland industry
Mr Oughton is Vice-President of the Australian Screen Production Education and Research Association (ASPERA).
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