Motion Picture Studio Mechanics of
Louisiana, Southern Mississippi & Mobile, AL
Motion Picture Studio Mechanics of
Louisiana, Southern Mississippi & Mobile, AL

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Tornado Procedure
Apr 22, 2023


Tornado Watch: Make a Safety Plan and Communicate with Crew

A Tornado Watch is issued by the National Weather Service when weather conditions are favorable to the formation of a tornado. Weather such as thunder, electrical storms and/or hail usually precede tornadoes.

If there is a particularly bad line of storms on the way, production may want to consider letting the crew go for the day to allow them adequate time to get back to their homes or hotels. Let IATSE 478 know what you plan to do.

Tornado Safety Plan:

If a Tornado Watch is issued, it is imperative that the production be proactive about making a Safety Plan, as production is responsible for providing a safe working environment. This means adequate indoor protective shelters should be identified and secured for all crew. A car, work truck, trailer, or overhang is not adequate shelter for a tornado like it would be for a lighting delay. Work with the Locations Department to identify and secure indoor shelter (ideally with access to a bathroom) for all on and off set crew. What will you do with large pieces of equipment if weather conditions deteriorate quickly? 

If production elects to continue to work, all manned aerial lifts should be lowered to the ground and cease to operate. Unmanned lifts should be secured, other equipment such as lighting fixtures and grip apparatus should be lowered. 

All crew should be briefed on production’s Tornado Safety Plan as soon as possible --often weather conditions deteriorate rapidly and communications can’t be made quick enough in the moment, or cell service goes out completely. 

Crew should be briefed through safety meetings, email, text, AND walkie. Don’t depend on one form of communication to get the Safety Plan out, and remember to include folks out on runs, at basecamp, and working at different locations. Make sure all AD staff and PA’s have a written copy of the plan so that they can answer questions. If they can’t answer them, they should know who to ask to get additional info. For offset workers, phone and text chains through department heads and stewards will be the most effective. Designate a point person at each location/area to conduct these safety briefings and keep crew updated on weather. 

Production should stay in communication with stewards and/or Local 478 directly.

Tornado Warning-Take Action

A Tornado Warning is issued when formation of tornadoes is highly possible or if a tornado has been sighted in an area. At this stage all or some of the following could be seen or should be watched for: dark greenish or orange-gray sky color; hail; and large, dark, low-lying, fast moving clouds.

This is the time for all crew members to be notified (walkie, phone/text, email) to go their designated shelter. 

It is Local 478’s strong suggestion that: 

  1. If a Tornado Warning is issued or a tornado is seen in the area, Production must cease immediately and all staff should be directed to shelter.

  2. All personnel are required to remain at a safe distance from the equipment while sheltering.

  3. Continue to communicate with crew about weather updates and safety needs until the Tornado Warning passes.

After the Weather Passes:

Check in with your crew. Communicate to department heads that they should check with their crew members. If someone has been affected, consider allowing this crew member to leave for the day to handle things. If roads are unpassable to a crew member’s home, consider offering them a hotel for the night.

If a tornado has hit a production location or very close to it, work should not be resumed there. Utilize department heads to check on all crew and verify that everyone is uninjured. Crew safety must take priority over gear. If Crew cars are damaged, crew may need transportation to be provided by production. Roads may be unpassable and crew may have to remain in the shelter until emergency crews are able to clear them. 

If this worst-case scenario happens, consider taking the following day off the to allow crew to assess any damage and take a mental health day.


IATSE Local 478
511 N. Hennessey St.
New Orleans, LA 70119
Officers & Staff

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