A freelance camera person providing just his or her skills to an employer, is treated as an “employee” for health and safety purposes. The equipment is provided by the employer, the cameraman is told what to do, when, how and where. There is an exchange of skills for wages, there is no financial risk and no profit potential for the freelancer. However, for freelance cameramen, in the not so distant future, there will be a need to have a health and safety 'passport' which details their safety training and competence.
When a cameraman supplies his / her own equipment, has a high degree of control, performs tasks as a business in their own right, has a wide client base, possibly hires in other freelancers and is fully responsibility for investment and financial risks, they are regarded as a 'contractor'.
Contractors should have in place a:
- Health & Safety Policy
- Health & safety risk assessment or method statement for the job contracted
- Valid insurances
- Proof of the competence of those who will carry out the work.
They must communicate and confirm all the requirements that the production are putting into place and communicate and confirm all the contractual details of what they are providing and what they will be responsible for. Legally, if you employ five or more people you must have a written Health & Safety Policy.
“Contractors are not required to conform to the BBC’s arrangements for safety. They are, however, expected to have their own adequate safety arrangements and any department placing a contract must ensure that this is the case.” BBC Terms of Trade
The future of suppliers to the major broadcasters, or other independent production companies, will depend on their having all this health & safety documentation in place and written down as part of their contractual compliance. In the modern business world, it’s about companies covering their backs and checking that, if something major or minor does happen, there is initially a paper trail that they and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) can immediately look at to identify whose working practices they might examine in more detail. If you don’t have the paperwork in order, you may be in line for the legal people to take action, whether in a criminal or civil court.
The GTC is working to help provide its members with the information and expertise they need in order to comply with these increasingly exacting requirements. You can find a selection of Health & Safety documents in the Technical Resources section.