Safety Concerns for Cast & Crew


Products approved for makeup use have been tested extensively for toxic hazards.  Only these products should be used for stage productions.  Old containers of makeup could contain bacteria and should be thrown away.  Wash your face and hands before applying cosmetics.  If you are using makeup from a “communal” make-up kit, use a clean brush or your clean hands to apply.  Shared makeup should not be applied directly to your face.  These guidelines should be followed for shared makeup users:

  • Creme sticks: slice these out with dental spatulas on to individual papers such as butter trays.  Label and reuse them individually for touch-ups.
  • Lipsticks:  These too can be sliced and labeled.  For a long running show, provide individual lipsticks.
  • Pancakes and powders: Powdered products provide a less viable environment for infection, but try to individualize usage.  Supply powders in the smallest containers available.
  • Mascara: Use individual applicators/containers if possible.
  • Eyeliners and Eye makeup: Use individual products if possible.
  • Brushes: Use disposable brushes.
  • Sponges: Use disposable sponges whenever possible.  Reusable ones can be disinfected.  Give out individual sponges at the beginning of a show, and maintain separate use.
  • Miscellaneous: Any type of facial hair, skullcaps, sequins, or other face product should be disinfected before used by a new performer. Use an approved bactericide for disinfection.  Carefully store these types of products in labeled individual plastic bags between performances. 

Makeup artists should make a practice of washing their hands between actors.  Sponges and brushes should be washed after use on each individual.

When removing spirit gum or latex, avoid prolonged skin contact with solvents.  Use moisturizers to replace lost skin oils and to guard against dermatitis.


Fatigue is a serious safety concern that should be considered during all stage productions.  With performance dates approaching, most crewmembers can become severely overworked. 

Follow these simple guidelines to avoid fatigue:

  • Get proper rest. The average person requires 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Limit drugs that might contribute to fatigue (tranquilizers and cold/allergy medications)
  • Reduce caffeine, nicotine and alcohol which can also contribute to fatigue.
  • Take frequent breaks while working.  Repetitive or long work sessions can reduce one’s ability to concentrate on the work at hand.
  • Plan ahead.  Having your building materials and equipment ahead of time can increase efficiency and reduce the work time required.
  • Know when to quit.  Recognize signs of fatigue – loss of concentration, slow reaction times, memory loss – and knock off for the day.

Heat Stress

Theater spaces are often without air-conditioning and, even if they are air-conditioned, stage lighting can produce an incredibly hot glow.  Add that to the stress and/or excitement of performing, and cast members are prime candidates for heat stress.  Working in hot conditions may pose special hazards to safety and health.

Drink plenty of liquids during a performance to replace the fluids lost from sweating – as much as one quart per hour may be necessary.  Water and/or sports drinks are recommended.  Avoid caffeinated beverages such as cola, iced tea and coffee.

Please see the Heat Stress page for more information.


Kelly States
Assistant Director