Independent Production Companies: Working with

Date: 01.09.2017     Last updated: 05.08.2019 at 11.56
The BBC needs to ensure that any Independent Production Company it commissions is able and competent to make the programme with due consideration for health and safety.

This Guide outlines the BBC's health & safety vetting procedure for the 'Independents' ('Indies') we commission and makes clear our right to monitor them against health and safety criteria established during the vetting process.

What can go Wrong?

  • Injury to person involved in the production or to member of public
  • Complaints by viewers and listeners
  • Complaints and investigation by enforcement authorities
  • Reputational Damage to the BBC

Legal/BBC Requirements

  • Vetting of an Independent Production Company’s health and safety arrangements must be undertaken prior to using them for the first time and then every 3 years
  • As vetting needs to be done as part of the selection process for a competent independent production company, it cannot be done “retrospectively”. Sufficient time must be allowed prior to selection to allow vetting to take place and any issues to be resolved. See 'The Safety vetting Process' in Useful Documents 
  • The BBC has an agreement with ITV and BSkyB to share vetting information so that once vetted by one of the partner organisations the independent production company does not then need to be vetted again by the other broadcasters. Vetting lasts for 3 years.

Control Measures

Safety Vetting

  • The Safety Vetting Process (in Useful Documents) describes the process
  • Business Affairs Manager (BAM) check “WhatsOn” to verify if Indy has been safety vetted
  • If not, or it has expired, BAM contacts Safety Advice Line to check if the Indy has been vetted by another broadcaster
  • If yes, Safety to update WhatsOn; if not, BAM to send our safety vetting form to the Indy to start the process (see Useful Documents)
  • BBC Safety reviews documents submitted to them and advises BAM of the outcome; the 'approval' period is normally 3 years
  • Any safety vetting 'approval' given does not include for commissions involving 'high risk' - where these occur, further documentary evidence wil likely need to be submitted to our High Risk team (see below)
  • Except for productions involving “High Risk”, BBC Safety do not provide safety advice to Indies.

High Risk shoots / deployments

  • Where the Indy commission does involve elements of 'High Risk' (see below), then the independent company must obtain and follow advice from the BBC Safety High Risk team before travel (see Recommended Links (Gateway))
  • We define 'High Risk' as:
  1. a significantly higher than normal risk of death or serious injury resulting from working in Hostile Environments, (country, region or specified area specified in the BBC Hostile environment country pages) subject to war, insurrection, civil unrest, terrorism or extreme levels of crime, banditry or lawlessness, public disorder; or areas with extreme climate or terrain
  2. an undertaking covert surveillance or filming and/or confrontation of terrorist, serious criminal, extremist or violent political groups
  3. involvement in High Risk Events that is, riots, civil disturbance or extreme public disorder, terrorist or armed criminal incidents such as hi-jacking or sieges, any event involving chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) substances, extreme climatic events and natural disasters such as hurricanes, severe floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc. or outbreaks of serious diseases and pandemics
  • The Business Affairs Manager must ensure that the BBC High Risk Team is notified of any proposed “High Risk” deployments or shoots.

 High Risk team input

  • In support, the High Risk team will provide advice to the Independent regarding countries listed as Hostile Environments
  • Forward to the Independent information relating to the area concerned and copies of the BBC Risk Assessment & Assignment Outline forms
  • Advise on Hostile Environment training and equipment requirements. (Equipment is available through the BBC safety equipment stores. Procurement of training and equipment is nevertheless a matter for the Independent and is considered a production cost)
  • Advise on the emergency and contingency arrangements required
  • Ensure the proposed activities and modus operandi of the production do not entail intolerable levels of risk
  • Ensure activities are co-ordinated with other BBC operations in the area and elsewhere which may be impacted adversely by the production
  • Ensure any significant changes to agreed plans are discussed with the commissioners and the High Risk team before proceeding.


  • The BBC reserves the right to carry out assurance monitoring of the safety performance of the Independents. BBC Safety will carry out monitoring checks on random productions based on a risk rating taking into consideration the activity planned, their previous experience, safety support etc. This may include checks on the Independents compliance with their safety policy, reviewing the plans for any particular programme, site inspections, monitoring content including content that was not broadcast.
  • The indy is responsible for reporting accidents to the relevant enforcing authority (e.g. the HSE in the UK) but will also inform the BBC by phoning the Safety Advice Line or the BAM of the circumstances of any RIDDOR incident or similarly serious incident (such as an accident overseas or a serious Road Traffic Accident).
  • The BAM or Commissioner to inform Safety of relevant incidents or safety complaints.

Division Specific Issues

  • No specific divisional issues.

FAQs/Did You Know?

  • From 1st January 2015 the BBC, ITV and BSkyB will work together, sharing information provided during pre-commissioning health & safety checks. The new vetting criteria are very similar to those we have previously used except that the requirement for the indy to have access to a source of competent advice is stricter than we have previously applied. The source of advice must be a member of the OSH register, CMIOSH, GradIOSH or have qualifications that meet the requirements for GradIOSH. We can still vet companies who don’t have advice which meets that criteria but that vetting would only be valid for the BBC not ITV and BSkyB.
  • There is a related letter which is being sent to PACT members, that describes how the process works. But essentially it means that a company vetted by the BBC and meeting the full criteria on the form will be able to work with ITV or BSkyB without further vetting and vice versa. During vetting we will ask the company if they wish their details to be shared with Sky and ITV. The letter has a list of people that can be contacted for more information or clarification of the process.

 Safety Guides - Quick Links

About this site

This site describes what the BBC does in relation to managing its health, safety and security risks and is intended for those who work directly for the BBC.

It is not intended to provide instruction or guidance on how third parties should manage their risks. The BBC cannot be held liable for how this information is interpreted or used by third parties, nor provide any assurance that adopting it would provide any measure of legal compliance. More information.

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