Lessons from Hollywood: How to save Aussie employees from OH&S risks

Last week’s Academy Awards mark the end of another big awards season in Hollywood. A year when actors and filmmakers tried to push the limits to achieve blockbuster success. After a couple of COVID interrupted years, filmmakers are doing everything they can to get people back to the cinema, but the demands of modern audiences are making the industry an increasingly dangerous line of work, with important lessons for all Australian workplaces.

Actor Tom Cruise is notorious for filming his own stunts. Back in 2020 he broke his ankle while filming for “Mission: Impossible – Fallout”. The injury delayed production, resulting in a costly blowout. This year Tom was back to his old tricks with videos of Cruise motorbiking off a cliff while filming the new Mission Impossible. And, if you believe the reports, the stunt took six takes. With each iteration of that franchise, his stunts get crazier and more dangerous.

Perhaps even more dangerous was Kate Winslet’s stunt of holding her breath underwater for a shot in Avatar: Way of the water. Holding her breath for seven minutes Kate Winslet broke the record for a breath hold on a movie set, beating none other than Tom Cruise.

In 2018, the parents of a stuntwoman killed while filming “Deadpool 2” sued the movie’s production company for negligence. The world-famous case was eventually settled out of court, but it highlights the potential liability risks associated with movie production.

What lessons can be picked from Hollywood?

While most of the time film sets follow strict safety procedures, filmmakers and actors in pursuit of their art are potentially putting themselves and crews at unnecessary risk. HR and workplace risk leaders across key sectors can take important lessons from these examples:


The increased requirements for building and construction material has forced the industry to extend working hours to keep up with demand. Market competition has also increased across Australian industries placing stress on customer retention, this has resulted in a high-stress workforce where fatigue management is becoming a risk factor for workplace injuries.

Labour hire

The current labour market is extremely inflated. The high job vacancy and increased wage expectation has made labour hire an attractive solution for Australian business. However, the emerging risk for on-hire workers has become a lack of accountability from the principle.

Insurers are applying high cost premium rates to labour hire risks. Workplace Health and Safety and general prevention of workplace hazards must improve to mitigate these risks.


Houses are built by day and our infrastructure is maintained by night. Our largest cities must now consider the construction industry more than ever following the internal and international migrations. The state regulators (Worksafe, SIRA, Workcover QLD) maintain a keen eye because they know if something goes wrong, there is a high likelihood of catastrophic loss.

Cyber security

Most of us have been subject to hacking attempts, but most of the attempts we never know about because of the technology that prevents them. The tech industry is innovative, brave and relentless, however, the burden is extremely heavy and visible when the process fails.

It is not uncommon for technology managers to spend countless hours in the office, or even overnight while resolving issues. The ‘whatever it takes’ approach is brave as well as commendable, however, it comes with risk when considering the work and family stressors.

Jules Paolino is the Risk Consulting Client Manager at Honan Insurance Group.