Health Hazards in the Adult Film Industry
In addition to general health and safety hazards associated with film and video production, workers in the adult film industry face particular hazards because actors perform sex acts in the course of making the films or videos. Many diseases can be transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid and fecal material, or by mucous membrane contact.
One important group of diseases is those caused by blood-borne pathogens, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In addition to actors, employees in this industry at risk of becoming infected include people who clean up after scenes and people who assist in developing scenes, whether or not they are shown on film. If any sharps, such as razor blades or wires, are used (for shaving, piercing, etc.), they pose a particular risk for spreading infection because they can puncture the skin.
Other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are not considered blood-borne pathogens, but can be transmitted through contact with mucous membranes, semen, vaginal fluids or feces. The blood-borne pathogen standard requires employers to use feasible engineering and work practice controls to protect workers from coming into contact with blood or other disease-carrying body fluids [referred to in the standard as “other potentially infectious material” or “OPIM”]. Semen and vaginal fluid are always considered OPIM. Any other body fluid is considered OPIM if it’s visibly contaminated with blood. Saliva is considered OPIM in connection with dental procedures because these procedures routinely cause saliva to be contaminated with blood.
The kind of contact prohibited by the standard is contact between skin or mucous membranes and blood or OPIM.
Examples of engineering and work practice controls used in the adult film industry include:
- Simulation of sex acts using acting, production and post-production techniques
- Ejaculation outside the partner’s body
- Use of barriers, which protect the partner from contact with semen, vaginal fluids, mucous membranes, etc. Examples of barriers include condoms and dental dams ( (condoms and dental dams can also be considered personal protective equipment for the partner who uses them)
- Plastic and other disposable materials to clean up sets
- Sharp containers for disposal of any blades, wires or broken glass.
Personal Protective Equipment
If after using all practical engineering and work practice controls, workers are still exposed to hazards, employers must provide, and ensure employees use, appropriate personal protective equipment. Personal protective equipment can include:
- Dental dams
- Eye protection
Note: Cal/OSHA regulations do not require these barriers or personal protective equipment to be visible in the final product, and producers are free to use production and post-production editing techniques to remove them from the image.