03 May Good Karma Hospital – Case Study
Good Karma Hospital – Case Study
by Laura Bond-Powell – Health & Safety Adviser
What risks should crews be aware of when working in tropical climates? Laura Bond-Powell recently found out during a recce for Good Karma Hospital. Despite already having a series under her belt, Laura still encountered unexpected trouble around every corner. Read about her experiences with questionable cabling, marauding reptiles, and punishing temperatures – and how to handle these situations.
I recently went out to Sri Lanka for the technical recces of the second series of Good Karma Hospital. This involved looking at the locations the production wanted to film in, including Unawatuna, Galle, Hikkaduwa, Wakwella, and Weligama, to discuss the action and effects, assess & advise on the risks, and advise on contractor competency.
As with all travel, it was important to have the right vaccinations up to date – however there weren’t inoculations for all tropical diseases. At the time of my departure from the UK there had been a sharp incline in cases of Dengue fever, so at the airport and in the RA, I provided the production with some additional prevention strategies, suggested that they highlighted the symptoms to the crew, and used buddy systems to help combat the risk of Dengue being contracted.
With it being the second series of Good Karma Hospital, the key battle – the humid hot climate – had already been felt on the first series. With this in mind, the recces were planned out well, with fluids readily available, sunscreen plentiful, time exposed to the elements limited, and cold towels offered regularly to help everyone cool down. When on set, the essentials for working in the heat included avoiding the hotter hours where possible, having some form of shade available at all times, covering up and using sunscreen, and maintaining hydration. When you’re busy and focused on your work, regular reminders of sunscreen and water are pertinent.
A common site hazard we came across was the proximity of electrical cabling, and in one location, a transmission tower. With a power line you don’t actually have to touch it for it to pose a risk to you. Just going close enough to a live overhead line could result in a flashover. The first option was to avoid contact with a live cable – can we use a different route? Do we need to work here? The second option was to arrange for a diversion of the power or get it isolated. If we were to go for the latter we would need to be confident that this has happened, and hire someone competent to complete the work. If we needed to rely on safe distances, then these would need to be clearly established and marked, with particular attention paid to any equipment which could lead to a flashover – such as scaffold poles, mobile elevated work platforms, particular props, sound booms, and drones.
The other key hazard the crew faced was the wildlife that surrounded them. Depending on the filming location, especially when going into paddy fields or somewhere with long grass, there could be snakes of a number of varieties – from fruit snakes, to pythons, to cobras, or even monitor lizards. With loud noises, the use of machinery, sweeping techniques, and a few simple steps, the animals could be mostly warned them off, but it was still important to be aware of the details of any wildlife that may bite and to know what to do should anyone spot any, as well as what to do immediately after a bite until medical help could be provided.
The safety challenges that crews face when working in tropical climates are not typical of the UK, but the risks associated to them sometimes were. On a beach, or in a field, you’d often find coconut trees. Even if extremely unlikely, if there’s a risk of anyone being knocked out or worse, you can avoid this by using alternative routes, utilising mesh nets, removing the coconuts, or as a last resort: hard hats.