I had planned to write an entirely different post today, until I saw this comment from Pete on an old post:
I was just fired from a shoot after the AD’s placed me in back-to-back dangerous situations. The UPM declared that a PA is easier to replace than an AD, so they fired me.
Oh, man, this sucks. Pete did everything right; the UPM and AD did everything wrong. And Pete is the one who gets fired…
I cannot emphasize this enough for the newbs out there. Working on a set is dangerous. Know your limits, and don’t cross them just to impress the AD. This is how people get hurt. Your life is more important than this show.1
Just as importantly, they’re not supposed to fire you for refusing to do something unreasonably dangerous. And that’s why Cal/OSHA has an enforcement branch. I recommend reporting them immediately.
A PA is much easier to replace than an AD, but an investigation by the state is not so easily ignored. Especially if you’re talking about a major studio. That kind of thing can spread to other productions, slowing down the entire lot and costing millions of dollars.
Then, suddenly, the AD that put them in that situation is pretty replaceable.