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Guideline No. 31: Water Hazards | Safety Guidelines for the Film and Television Industry in Ontario

  • ISBN: 978-1-4249-9952-1
  • Issued: November 1990
  • Revised: June 2009
  • Content last reviewed: August 2010

Water Hazards

The following procedures are recommended for all water work including, but not limited to, fountains, ponds, rivers, lakes, swamps, bogs, and oceans.

Note: This is not a comprehensive list of procedures to consider and does not relieve the workplace parties of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

  1. Small controlled ponds within studio property should be kept drained. The pond should be filled immediately prior to production and drained when production is completed.
  2. Water in large, controlled ponds located inside studio property should be analysed with written results available to production staff no later than 48 hours prior to production use. If results indicate unacceptable levels of contaminants (i.e. not in compliance with applicable regulatory standards for “recreational full body contact”), steps to eliminate them should be taken. A second, independent analysis should be conducted and results made available to the Producer no later than 24 hours before use.
  3. When work in a body of water is contemplated, including still water areas such as swamps, bogs, or ponds, the Producer should determine the pollution or contaminant content through analysis of water samples. If results show unacceptable levels, precautions should be taken (i.e. , wearing a special suit so no water touches the skin) or the location should be changed.
  4. Note: Extreme care should be taken regarding the existence of snakes and other poisonous reptiles.

  5. When work in a body of water is contemplated, the Producer should obtain all available knowledge from local authorities as to currents, winds, storms, natural hazards, upstream configurations such as dams, waste disposal sites, chemical plant dumping sites, and flash flood dangers, etc. , prior to actual filming.
  6. Note: If a safety hazard is found to exist, the Producer should inform all cast and crew and take precautions to minimize or eliminate the risk, or relocate the shooting site.

  7. When it is necessary for personnel to work in fast moving rivers, downstream personal protective equipment (PPE) such as life vests and safety equipment such as ropes shall be provided (as per section 27 of O. Reg. 213/91). An emergency rescue plan will be in place and will be communicated to all personnel (as per section 27 of O. Reg. 213/91
  8. When work on or in a body of water is contemplated, the Producer should contact local authorities (including police, fire departments, Toronto Harbour Master, Toronto Film and Television Office, the Metro Toronto Police Marine Unit, or similar local authority having jurisdiction) to determine if any known hazards such as sub-surface objects, underwater life or contaminants exist. If a safety hazard is found to exist, the Producer should inform all cast and crew and shall take precautions to minimize or eliminate risk, or relocate the shooting site.
  9. Where boating traffic is anticipated, all precautions including those mandated by the municipal police force (who have authority over water traffic flow) should be enforced.
  10. All personnel scheduled for water work should be notified in advance.
  11. All personnel working on, in or around water should have the ability to swim and/or appropriate water safety devices should be provided, including safety divers and/or lifeguards. Section 86 of Reg. 851 also requires an alarm system be present, plus the use of life jackets or written measures and procedures to prevent a worker from drowning.
  12. Water temperature should be taken into consideration, especially during the colder seasons, or when production companies are shooting at distant and/or upper elevations.
  13. NOTE: This is imperative due to the real possibility of hypothermia, a lowering of the internal body temperature to below 37°C, caused by exposure to cold. Hypothermia can be fatal.

    Where necessary, the Producer shall provide the required "wet" or "dry" suits and warming stations, when applicable, for personnel required to work in the water (as per 25(2)(h) of OHSA). Safety notices regarding the treatment of hypothermia should be attached to the Call Sheet. Also refer to Appendix C.

  14. The Producer shall ensure that certified safety personnel and equipment (i.e. safety boat) are available for the duration of all production activity on, in or near water locations for the protection of a worker as required by 25(2)(h) of OHSA.
  15. All foreign objects which are potentially hazardous, other than those required for pictorial needs, should either be removed or identified and marked.
  16. All personnel should be advised to keep potential contaminants away from the water such as paints, thinners, repellents, gasoline and oils, etc.
  17. Post-immersion washing facilities should be available at all water use sites and their use enforced.
  18. No electrical source other than one protected by ground fault circuit interceptors (GFCI) should be utilized for production use in close proximity to water. This includes aquariums, swimming pools, hot tubs, fountains, showers, ponds, rivers, lakes, swamps, bogs, and oceans. Sections 44.1 and 44.2 of Reg. 851 and sections 195.2 and 195.3 of O. Reg. 213/91 set out the requirements for GFCI s in wet locations.

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