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Five Additional Points of PPE

Chris Lose • July 2021LD at Large • July 9, 2021

Illustration by John Sauer – johnsauer.com

If you don’t read beyond this sentence, please take care of each other out there. We are in a fragile transition back to reopening. We are in a fickle position where many people want to see us succeed, but there are some people in power who want to see us fail.

We are all accustomed to the standard five points of PPE — hard hat, high visibility vest, steel toe capped boots, gloves and safety goggles. The current era has forced us to be grievously aware of several new points of PPE. In addition to falling objects, loud noises and heavy machinery, we also have the remnants of a pandemic to deal with. We must work together to overcome the obstacles and put the grief behind us. Our industry of connection, networking, and community requires us to put aside our personal fears and work towards regaining what has been temporarily lost. We cannot sit at home and pretend like Covid will miraculously disappear. We can be assured that it’s not going to just go away, despite what some politicians would like to believe. Like all other matters of health and safety, the responsibility falls on our shoulders. In order to return to the freedoms of working, touring, and gathering, we need to respect the duties that are required to enjoy these freedoms. We have a social and moral obligation to look after one another on the job and everywhere else that we may be.

I am currently on show site in Dubai. We are doing everything reasonably possible to make sure that we can continue working. We have listened to the advice of many experts and taken their opinions into consideration. In addition to the five points of PPE, we are also required to wear a mask, sanitize our hands, get Covid tested regularly, and soon, we will all need to be vaccinated to remain on show site without a valid exemption. These are the duties that we have agreed to. We all know that we are under the microscope. We know that there are zoonotic viruses trying to infect our bodies around hidden corners. We all know that if one of us gets infected, it could affect the lives of our coworkers and our families. We all know that one negative headline could put us months behind schedule. We have a responsibility to ourselves, to each other and to our clients to make sure that we take every precaution to avoid these tragedies. Here is a list of five new points of PPE that will be commonplace in the modern era.

Masks

Just like helmets and hardhats were slow to gain acceptance, cloth masks endured the same scrutiny. Even though we can all see the logical benefits of not expelling our germs onto one another, we also don’t like to be inconvenienced. Masks are inconvenient. It’s hard to talk, it’s annoying to keep pulling them up over your nose and they are easy to forget. The same was said for every single safety precaution that has ever been implemented. Safety always requires some level of inconvenience. I used to try and avoid hard hats until a helmet saved the life of one of my dear friends during load out. I am positive that I can still call him today because he was wearing a brain bucket. His life is a testament to the fact that minor inconveniences are a small price to pay for the freedom to live and work freely. We can apply the same logic to cloth masks. A mask will not protect us from every single airborne disease. They may not even protect all of us from Covid a hundred percent of the time. They are one small step that we can take to show each other that we respect their health and safety as much as our own. I’d like to believe that mask mandates on jobsite will be reduced post-Covid, but we will also need to encourage people with sniffles, sneezes and persistent coughs to maintain a policy of facial coverings.

Covid Testing

As of today, other people have shoved more straws up my nose than I have. They aren’t shoving these swabs up my nose for their benefit. They are tickling the bottom of my brain for my benefit. They want to make sure that I am safe and healthy. They want to make sure that I am not accidentally bringing a possibly deadly virus with me to work. I have taken similar precautions to enter entire countries, hospitals, cruise ships, government buildings and even places where animals are kept. None of these tests infringed on my rights. They are the bare minimum that we can do to help slow the spread of deadly pathogens to the most vulnerable among us.

Social Distancing

This one is the tough for me. I’m a hugger by nature. I always ask permission to hug, but if the huggee is willing, I’m the first to go in for a big hug. I miss hugs. I think we all do. The entertainment business is designed to bring people together. That’s why many of us are in the industry. It is not in our nature to ask people to split up. We are constantly encouraging people to pack into tighter and tighter venues. Until we have taken the necessary steps to achieve herd immunity, we must put the greater good above our own selfish instincts. Just like wearing gloves and safety used to be against my nature, it took time for me to see the logic behind these safety precautions.

Vaccine Passports

At the time of writing, I am unvaccinated. In just a few days’ time, all the employees onsite will need to be vaccinated. This rule is in place to protect the guests and the producers alike. I am generally opposed to government regulations making vaccine passports mandatory; however, I must respect the rights of business owners who are protecting their staff, clients and their investments. Please consider that these small inconveniences are only slightly more intrusive than OSHA 10, OSHA 30 or other professional licenses, accreditations and certifications.

Acceptance of Progress

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, we are under the microscope. We are an industry that relies on large gatherings. Large gatherings are where virus transmission thrives. There are people in the world who can profit greatly from our inability to gather and communicate. They want us to fail. They want us to stay at home in our houses, buy things online and obediently consume products. It is up to us to stand up. It is up to us to prove that we can gather safely, respectfully and profitably. In the past, some of us (myself included) thought that these prices were too great to pay for the right to freely work and travel. I thought hardhats were too cumbersome. I thought steel toe shoes were too uncomfortable. I thought Hi-Viz vests were dorky. I was wrong about all these things. Safety and freedom are not a dichotomy. Safety and freedom are dependent upon one another. One cannot be truly free without the health and safety to experience freedom.

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