Theatrical stage union IATSE has issued a 27-page set of safety guidelines for the still-to-be-determined reopening of Broadway and other live performance venues, with recommendations including the employment of COVID-19 “compliance officers,” paid sick leave and diagnostic testing of workers.
The guidelines address what IATSE calls “the unique challenges stagecraft workplaces face in a global pandemic,” and cover all relevant stage-related crafts. The International’s Stagecraft Department collaborated with local union officers repping stage, wardrobe, treasurers and ticket sellers, front of house, make-up artists and hairstylists, and designers in the United States and Canada.
Audiences and visitors would experience some changes to the theater-going experience under the guidelines: No more backstage tours or hanging out at the stage door for autographs. And don’t worry about being handed a Playbill or program from an usher – you’ll pick up your own from a table or rack.
The guideline document, which IATSE says was reviewed by medical experts in occupational health and safety, includes a roster of guiding principles and recommended general practices, including:
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- Venues must have a written COVID-19 safety plan in place that specifies necessary policies, practices and procedures. In multi-employer venues there must be a process for coordinating activities related to prevention and control of COVID-19;
- In advance of reopening in any setting, local public health authorities should be notified and proper liaison to that authority should be established. All COVID-19 prevention and control measures must be consistent with federal state and local public health guidelines;
- One or more autonomous COVID-19 Compliance Officers with specialized training, responsibility and authority for COVID-19 safety compliance and enforcement will be in the workplace to implement the safety plan and address issues as they arise;
- Systems will be employed to assess health/of all personnel prior to entry onto the workplace;
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Hierarchy of Control will guide approaches to mitigating risk. Engineering and administrative controls for hazard reduction will be developed and implemented whenever feasible, and when not feasible or cannot provide adequate protection, personal protective equipment (PPE) will be used;
- All required PPE will be provided and maintained by the employer
- Effective communication, training, and support programs are essential to the success of a COVID-19 safety plan;
- Assurance of paid leave and income retention if sick or exposed is a critical component of an effective COVID-safety plan;
- Venues must remain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Canadian Human Rights Act when implementing mitigation measures;
- Venues must be continually assessed for the adequacy of their preventive efforts and adjust their operations modified based on changing circumstances.
The guidelines acknowledge possible differences in safety strategies and testing frequency for casts, crews and employees who come in direct contact with the public, and venue workers who do not.
- Limit the duration of workdays and excessive consecutive workdays whenever possible and extend turnaround times whenever possible to ensure that workers remain healthy and receive adequate rest, since adequate rest is important for fighting infection;
- When possible, stagger start and call times to limit the number of workers in the venue at any one time;
- Physical contact should be avoided, including shaking hands, “high fives,” fist or elbow bumps, or hugging;
- Non-essential visitors to the workplace should be restricted. If visitors are provided access, they should be subject to the same guidance as cast and crew/employees, including the need for symptom screening and PPE requirements;
- No unauthorized or unexpected visitors should be allowed with the exception of Union representatives who are contractually permitted to visit workspaces;
- Union representatives will be subject to the safety guidelines required of workers;
- All workers should avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth;
- No animals/pets should be allowed in the workplace, unless it is an ADA/CDA compliant service animal.
Read the entire safety document here.
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