Maintaining a safe work environment is everyone’s responsibility. Below are some
guidelines to help you protect yourself and your co-workers.
Safety goggles should be worn when machine sewing over heavily beaded or
embellished fabrics, or heavily boned garments. Machine needles can break or shatter,
and it is important to protect your eyes from them when they do. Most tours do not carry
safety goggles with Wardrobe, but often they can be borrowed from another
department. You are also welcome to bring your own.
Ear plugs should be worn when working backstage at concerts or at other loud events.
Tours will usually have basic ear plugs for you to use, but if you take this type of work
often, you may consider investing in a higher quality set. Noise-induced hearing loss is
cumulative and irreversible, so protecting your hearing early in your career is important.
Some chemicals, glues, and paints (such as acetone, Barge, spray paint, etc) produce
noxious fumes that can cause headaches, nausea, and other health problems. They
should be used in an area with adequate ventilation, ideally someplace outside. Of
course, sometimes that is not possible or practical, so often those projects are taken to
an area like a loading dock or an unused room or hallway. If no suitable area can be
found, use a respirator. Most tours do not provide respirators, so if you know you will
need one, consider bringing your own. Craftspeople and dyers use these chemicals
frequently and may want to invest in a higher quality respirator that fits well.
OSHA requires that Safety Data Sheets (SDSs), formerly known as Material Safety
Data Sheets (MSDSs), be provided by the employer for any chemical you are asked to
work with. They are also available online at https://www.msdsonline.com/sds-search/.
Sometimes performers accidentally bleed on costumes and we are required to remove
that blood. Nitrile or latex gloves should be worn when dealing with bloody garments.
Any surface that has come in to contact with blood should be cleaned and disinfected.
Cold water and detergent is the best way to remove fresh blood spots. If the surface can
withstand bleach, use bleach to disinfect. If it cannot, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl
alcohol, or Dawn dishwashing detergent can all be used. Ask your Supervisor for the
most appropriate method of cleaning, and never use bleach on costumes without being
specifically directed to do so.
Gloves and aprons or work smocks may be worn to protect your skin and clothes from
glues, paints, and other chemicals. Most tours will provide some type of nitrile or latex
glove, but you should bring your own full apron or smock if you think you will need one.
Closed-toed shoes must be worn at all times backstage.
Some dressers like to wear knee pads if they have changes that require them to kneel.
Some also like to wear wrist braces or other supportive gear. Tours will not provide
these, it is up to you provide them if you chose to wear them.
Use a step ladder or sturdy chair to reach things that are too high for you to reach. Do
not climb on gondolas to reach the top.
Costumes can be heavy. Use safe practices when lifting heavy pieces or carrying heavy
pre-set baskets. Lift with your legs, not your back, and make multiple trips if necessary.
Let your supervisor know if you cannot perform the task.
It is important to be aware and alert at all times backstage. Set pieces and props get
moved around, actors run to and from entrances and exits, and all of this happens
quickly and in the dark. Be aware of your surroundings and do your best to stay out of
the way of moving parts. Keep an eye on your co-workers and let them know if they are
about to be in the way. Be gracious if someone asks you to move - they likely have your
safety in mind.
Floor wagons are often used to slide props or furniture onstage, and are often stored in
the wings when not in use. It may be difficult to see them, especially in the dark and
when you are carrying laundry baskets. Try to remember where they are and when they
are in use. Their footprint will often be marked out by white tape (or sometimes another,
high contrast color), so look for that. Stage Management should shine light on any
moving parts, but ultimately, we need to be responsible for our own safety.
If you have to leave the work room or backstage area, tell someone where you are
going. Some buildings have security systems that lock certain doors automatically after
a certain hour. Some buildings have unreliable elevators that occasionally get stuck.
Some buildings are large and very easy to get lost in. If you tell people where you are
going, they will know where to find you if you are unable to return. Always carry any
keys, badges, laminates, or wristbands given to you by the company. Consider carrying
your cell phone with you when you are not backstage, so the steward or supervisor can
contact you if needed.
Ask for further clarification if you are unsure of directions you have been given, or if you
feel unsafe performing a task. All workers have the right and the obligation to speak up
if they feel they are being asked to perform an unsafe task. No worker should fear
retaliation for speaking up about, or refusing to work under, unsafe conditions.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, injuries occur. If you become injured during the
course of a run, either at work or while on your own time, and you think it may impact
your ability to perform your work, inform your supervisor. It may be possible to modify
your track in a way that will prevent further injury.
If you become injured while in the workplace, ask the appropriate house personnel (or
the Steward) for a First Report of Injury. Minor injuries can sometimes grow and create
larger problems later. Also fill out a Report if you have been working with noxious
chemicals and think you may be experiencing health problems. Do not delay as there is
a short deadline for documentation of the injury. Without it, a worker may be denied Worker’s Compensation or lost wages (if applicable).
IATSE Local 13
312 Central Ave SE # 398
Minneapolis, MN 55414