Few places feel more like home to a theater kid than backstage, from the wings to the dressing room. That includes the set shop.
Unfortunately, feeling comfortable in the set shop can potentially translate to getting complacent. And if you’ve ever helped build a set, you know that that is a dangerous mindset to take into the shop. Our safety tips for constructing sets for plays and musicals will help keep your cast and volunteers safe for the whole run.
Have Shop Rules
As we said, the theater feels like home, and every home has house rules to ensure that those who live there remain safe. The same should be true of your theater’s set shop. Here are a few cardinal rules to add to your set’s rule list:
- No running or horseplay in the set shop.
- Put all tools away when you’re finished with them.
- Label all materials.
- Don’t use a tool unless you’ve been received training on it.
- Inform a supervisor of damaged equipment right away
Ultimately, most set construction safety tips for plays and musicals will be common sense. Still, posting the rules and teaching them to everyone working in the shop will help avoid preventable accidents.
Along with the shop rules, your set shop should post a standard for the type of clothing everyone will need to wear while working on sets. This should include:
- Close-toed shoes
- Long sleeves
- Long pants
Additionally, you will want to avoid wearing anything that might catch in machines or tools. Keep long hair tied back and avoid loose clothing. Cast members should also not enter the shop in costume.
Keep the Shop Ventilated
There is a lot of debris going into the air during set construction. Saws and sanders send sawdust flying into the air, and when it isn’t solid particles, it’s harmful invisible contaminants like the VOCs present in wood stain fumes.
While face coverings offer some protection, ventilation is the key if you’re looking for full protection. If you’re painting, staining, or sanding, make sure there are open exits to the outside with fans to keep fumes from accumulating.