Modern Workers Have Much To Learn
Skills Needed For
by Steven John Fellman
NATO Washington Counsel
For years, I thought that the teens working
as ushers, ticket takers, concession operators and box
had really easy jobs. They were relatively busy for short
periods of time just before the movie started and when
the movie was over, but they had little to do most of the
time and their work required little training and no sophisticated
skills. Today, I know that these same teens working in
a movie theatre need significant training, as they must
comply with a series of diverse and complicated legal requirements.
Let us take a look at the skills that all theatre employees
1. Food Handling. If the employee is working
at the concession counter, the employee must be trained
on proper food handling
techniques to comply with local laws. These laws will vary
from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Employees may be required
to wear gloves, use hair nets, wash hands, keep counters
clean, and perform certain clean-up functions on closing.
2. Fire Laws. Local
fire laws will require exits to be accessible. The exit
doors must open easily and not be
blocked. Nothing can be stored in the aisles. Safety warnings,
emergency lighting, signage, fire hoses, sprinkler systems,
alarm boxes, fire extinguishers etc., all must be present
and maintained as required by the local code.
3. OSHA. Hazardous
materials, such as cleaning compounds, must be properly
labeled. Employees must be
provided with material safety data sheets describing the
hazardous materials present in the workplace and what to
do if exposed to these substances. Employee work areas
and public use areas must be maintained in a safe manner,
i.e., no loose electrical cords can be placed across an
aisle even as a temporary measure without appropriate safeguards.
4. Sexual Harassment and Discrimination. Supervisors
must be trained to implement the company anti-discrimination
and sexual harassment policies. All employees must be trained
on these policies and must fully understand their implication
with regard to other employees and to patrons.
5. Anti-Piracy Policy. Employees
must be trained to watch for camcorders and other devices
that are used to record
a movie. Employees must understand the exhibitor’s
policy and know when to call the police to stop piracy.
6. The Rating System. Movies
are rated in accord with the MPAA/NATO rating system. Theatre
employees must understand
what the ratings mean and enforce the system to prevent
underage patrons from attending films that they are not
entitled to attend.
7. Disruptive Patrons. Occasionally
a patron will be disruptive. Whether the patron is constantly
using a cell phone or
just being loud or otherwise disruptive, the theatre employee
must understand the company policy dealing with such patrons
and know how to apply the policy and when to seek police
8. Americans With Disabilities Act Compliance. Employees
must be trained to deal with patrons who are disabled.
Employees must know where the wheelchair spaces are located;
when companion seats can be used by patrons who are not
with a disabled person; how the assistive listening systems
operate; when guide dogs and service animals are required
to be admitted to the theatre; and more.
9. Emergency Preparedness. There
are occasions where a patron will have a medical emergency
in a theatre. Employees
must be trained to deal with such situations. Employees
must also be prepared to deal with electrical failures,
smoke and fire in an auditorium.
10. Terrorist Attacks. In
the post-9/11 era, employees must be trained on how to
to terrorist attacks.
Assume it is Saturday night and there are 3,000 people
sitting in a 14-screen theatre. A bomb goes off in a building
a block away and the Office of Homeland Security issues
a code red alert. What should the cinema employee do?
These are 10 examples of situations that every theatre
employee may be faced with, any day of the year. To deal
with these situations, exhibitors must train and retrain
their employees. New employees must be given a thorough
training program and the training should be updated on
a regular basis. Are your employees trained to deal with
the issues outlined above? If not, the bad news is that
you have a real problem. The good news is that with proper
training, your employees can be taught to deal with these
problems in a meaningful manner.