This topic has 8 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 12 months ago by calcorn42.

  • Author
  • #19559
      • Experience: 5-10 years
      • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

      Hello Lovely Paint People!

      I wanted to start a thread for what we think our “New Normal” will be when we are finally allowed to return our scene shops. My company just started a new safety committee for setting up protocols when we are finally allowed back. What things will you or work place be implementing as we gear up to go back to work that comply with social distancing?

      For context our scene shop houses the paint, props, and carpentry departments. Props and Paints each has a crew of 3 people and carpentry has 7 for a total of 13. We have a pretty large warehouse where each department has their own space but we all share one break room. Below are several thoughts that we have preliminary kicked around.

      • maintaining 6ft of social distancing as much as possible
      • everyone wears a mask
        • the company is working out a way to provide every employee with at least 2 reusable masks and ditty bags to wash them
      • departments have staggered work schedules to prevent 13 people taking breaks or lunch in one room at the same time
      • each department will sanitize the break room after their allotted break/meal for the next group coming in
      • only one person will be permitted at the slop sink at a time

      What are everyone’s thoughts, feeling, and concerns going forward?

        • Experience: 10-15 years
        • Scenic Status: Part Time Freelance

        This all looks good. At least we are heading into nice weather so we can choose to take our breaks outside.

        What about a restroom policy? Maybe adding foot openers on doors, so you don’t have to use your hands? Or if it’s a single stall bathroom, leaving the door open while not in use?

        What about shared tools? Sometimes as a painter I need to borrow a carpenter’s tool, maybe set up a system for that.

          • Experience: 5-10 years
          • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

          Just found out that the Event Safety Alliance is publishing a “Guide to Reopening” that is specifically geared towards smaller venues (since they will be the first to open). It is free and will be available for download on Monday, May 11. Their regular safety guide is also available for free right now.

           Rachael Claxton
            • Experience: 5-10 years
            • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

            My shop in Ohio opened back up on May 4 and I was a part of the team that wrote safety guidelines for all the employees. For us, here are some of the basics:

            – Masks/Face coverings are required when you’re in the building
            – Maintain 6′ social distance from other employees when possible
            – Temperature checks / health assessment forms are required when you enter the building
            – All employees/guests must sign in and out whenever they enter/exit. (This includes for lunch if you go out or to your car.)
            – Each area/room must be sanitized at least twice a day
            – Maximum occupancy for each room may not exceed 50% of the fire code

            Honestly though, actually doing it and being back at work – it’s very challenging. We sanitize the paint shop with bleach multiple times a day, but I’m finding that it really is truly impossible to get everything after each use. One thing though that we found to be very helpful is for each person to have their own cart with supplies. For example, each painter has a rolling cart that has pens/pencils, basic brushes, tape, scrubbing pads, respirator, rags, spray bottles (for water and bleach), tack cloths, etc on it, so that some of those smaller, harder to clean items are only being used by 1 person. It was a great idea that my assistant came up with and hopefully helps with cross-contamination.

            We went pretty in the weeds on this so please feel free to reach out if you’d like any more specifics.


            Good afternoon,

            I am the TD and scenic artist at our university theater department, which is relatively small but very busy.

            We too are searching for ways to be safe yet still allow our student crews to have a decent backstage experience.

            I thought I would share one of our ideas which is very similar to Rachels’ cart idea. Our costumer is building us individual “nail aprons”. These are modeled on the old style carpenters canvas waist apron, but have several small internal compartments which hold pencils and markers, a stanley knife, tape measure loop, and side loop for scissors. We are setting up a system that each worker has a complete “set” of standard tools all week, and on Friday they are all cleaned and put back in the crib, pouches washed and all set for Monday. Screw guns, jig saws, routers and staple guns are still being sorted out, but our health and safety folks think we need to sanitize them after every use, which means we will be cleaning not building a better part of the day. We are looking for guidance with those as well.

            The paint sink side boards are getting a system of tall vertical clear pasta storage jars from the dollar store arranged in rows with a painter ID tag . Brushes stand upright handle down  in these on the drain board. A painter pulls the needed tools out, uses them, washes them, and puts them in the jar, and only that painter uses them for the shift. At the end we wash again and sanitize handles laying them out on old cafeteria trays overnight.

            We are lucky enough to have a set of decent fitches and lay in brushes for each painter on our crew. Special things like sponges and stamps we are still working on.

            Our plan is to wipe down every surface while we are working as best we can near the sinks, but we will have to work out some system for end of classes clustering at the sink .

            Any and all ideas to help us get started again safely are greatly appreciated.

            Brian Goodman

            Calvin University TD and Scenic artist



             Mary Novodvorsky
              • Experience: 20+ years
              • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

              Member Member

              <p style=”text-align: left;”>Are your student painters wearing gloves?  If not, they should be since even latex paint is not good to have absorbed by your skin. Perhaps with the use of gloves, you can cut down on paint equipment sanitizing since they will not be sharing tools.</p>


              Yes, gloves are worn when mixing or painting. It is our Health and Safety folks that are pushing the sanitizing issues. I completely understand their concerns, but there is no additional budget for the new procedures, and without grumbling too much, big budget cuts are being threatened. University life as usual.

              I spent the first twenty or so years of my career as a signpainter, going through an intensive period of safety training, and if you want horror stories of the “open door” cuticle, we heard them. Serious rules were enforced. When I moved to a mixed local in IATSE, there were no safety protocols in place. I was shocked, but still operated under my early training, and impart that training on our students every day.

              Scary story, there were early painters who could determine a thinners makeup by smell. Yes, shove a nasty cup of some xylene based liquid under your nose to determine if it had a drier or any other additive in it. They lived. How, I am not sure but I knew one who did that.

              Safety in my shop may actually be talked about more than paint chemistry which is one of my favorite subjects.


               Scott Gerwitz
                • Experience: 20+ years
                • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

                I was in a Local 829 union meeting yesterday and the Business Rep emphasized, “It is the employer’s responsibility to create the workplace safety standards.” It is the same law that requires the employer to OSHA train and respirator fit test all employees. But we all know, not all companies do so.

                Make sure you protect yourself, medically and legally, by making sure your employers create the safety protocol before going back to work.

                All the entertainment unions are working together to try to figure out how to safely get back to work. They will publish a document outlining their results and I am sure it will be open for the public to read.

                Stay safe everyone!

                Cheers, Scott

                  • Experience: 5-10 years
                  • Scenic Status: Full Time Regular

                  Yes, to all of those things Scott! The company I’m at is working on a bunch of different protocols in different phases. I volunteered to be on the Safety Committee so I’ve been sitting in on webinars, researching, digging through memos, etc. If I remember right IATSE just put out one such document outlining protocols for their members (I’m sure the first of many). AEA is also working with a special consultant to draft their protocols for fittings, rehearsals, and beyond. I know many large theatres are waiting to announce when they are coming back until there’s more guidance from the unions.

                  Thankfully, we are taking our time with reopening. We are just now moving forward with Phase One which is opening the offices. There will only be 2 people in the shop for awhile. Working on productions with a large staff is a long way off for us.

                Viewing 9 posts - 1 through 9 (of 9 total)

                You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

                CONTACT US

                ©2024 Guild of Scenic Artists

                Log in with your credentials


                Forgot your details?

                Create Account