Electricity and glass can be terrifying and dangerous phenomena. Studio photography is not possible without either. So it is important to know how to use them safely, for legal and personal reasons. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers most of the essentials for professional photographers in the workplace. In photography, questions of adult and child safeguarding must also be born in mind, along with European legislation on privacy. In addition, copyright and plagiarism are other areas of legal expertise with which any aspiring lens person must equip themselves with.
Top of the list are the fire safety arragnements that must cover every indoor place of work and activity. I have done a fire warden course for my employer so have the latest certification. With studio work, it is important to have the special fire extinguishers to hand that apply. Of the 4 standards available, the dry powder and CO2 extinguishers are the ones that must be available in studios. Water must never be used on electrical fires while power is still live.
In the studio itself, there are many potential hazards from tables, chairs, electric cables, unstable tripods and lights, large light filters, overhead beams and rails and so on. Stepladders must be held by a second person whenever someone is on them. All equipment must be understood – how it works, whether it is assembled correctly. Care must be taken in navigating around them and using them. eg No cords must be capable of bringing down a large backdrop on anyone’s head when pulled. For these reasons, it is best not to have spectators or extra people in a studio setting.
In the shoot illustrated here, of flowers, I had to use scissors to cut the stems, and arrange backdrops and lights on slightly shaky. The kinds of tables that collapse if someone sits on them. The scissors were blunt. It is easy to cut oneself when over enthusiastically using blunt scissors. Flowers sometimes have thorns, that can be a hazard also especially if using a model whose skin might suffer from a cut. In addition, one of my models suffered a mild allergic reaction to the pollen in some of the flowers. It is important to consider all such eventualities, and have antihistamine tablets and cream on hand should this occur.
Storage is a must. Equipment must be properly stored and curated, and put away properly after use.
Rubber cables should be used. Plugs must be compatible with equipment. Electrical burning smells, common when spots are in use for a long time, must be investigated and dealt with.
Bulbs must never be touched. Incandescent lights of the kind common in spots get very hot. They can be made unstable by the touch of human flesh and explode. They will also cause burns if touched when hot. Some bulbs contain mercury which is a poison. Great care must be taken to avoid exploding such bulbs.
Explosions can also be caused by plugs being too close to live equipment. A spark can arc over and ignite equipment with catastrophic results.
Sparks can be caused if someone trips over a cable and pulls out a plug by accident, or knocks over equipment, with the same result. Some people recommend rubber gloves and electricity-proof gaffer tape when working in the studio and any long loose cables should be secured safely. Best to avoid extensions at all if possible.
For obvious reasons, then, food and drink should never be in a photo studio.
Be familiar with fuse box and fuse requirements of different plugs and lights.
And also it is advisable to have done a first aid course and have a first aid kit to hand at all times.