What Are the Occupational Hazards Associated with Being A Camera Operator?

Camera operators often suffer from various levels of back, shoulder, and elbow pain due to the sheer weight of the camera equipment and accessories they must carry as well as how they need to be held and operated.

It is important for new camera operators to begin their careers with the right information to help prevent and minimize the impact of the well-documented occupational hazards that come with being a camera operator.

It is equally as important for those who have been in the industry for years to also take care of themselves to ease any pain they are currently experiencing as well as improve their odds for a more pleasant and less painful future.

Common Injuries in Camera Operators

Below are some of the most common injuries experienced by camera operators.

  • Back Pain
    Having lower back pain is one of the most common complaints made by camera operators. This is due to the weight of the camera pushing down on your vertebrae, and the impact that this has gets compounded by the length of time you spend with your camera on your shoulder. The longer you spend working with the camera on your shoulder, the more damage you are doing to your spine faster, and you risk additional nerve damage. Lower back pain can also be exacerbated by sitting or driving daily for long periods of time.
  • Shoulder Pain
    Shoulder pain is also very common in camera operators who are constantly lifting the camera rig above their shoulder line with one hand. This can result in a rotator cuff tear which, depending on how extreme the damage is, cannot always be repaired or the tendon able to regenerate itself.
  • Elbow Pain
    Tendonitis, also called “tennis elbow,” is another common injury suffered by camera operators caused by overworked forearm flexors from gripping the camera rig. Those with tennis elbow experience pain on the outside of the arm where the forearm meets the elbow.

How Do I Improve Back, Shoulder, and Elbow Pain?

Below are some tips to help camera operators avoid injury and help minimize aches and pains.

Tips for Keeping Camera Operators Safe

  1. Lighten Your Load
    When you don’t have to hold your camera on your shoulder, don’t. Use a dolly or rolling cart to transport and hold any equipment you don’t need to carry yourself.
  2. Take Breaks
    Be mindful of working for extended periods of time without any breaks. Carry a monopod with you so that you have something portable, versatile, and inexpensive to help you keep your camera steady if you need to stand with your camera for a long period of time and tripods are not allowed at the event you are at.
  3. Strengthen Your Forearms & Grip
    Strengthen your forearms to help with tendonitis by using heavy grip hand gripper.
  4. Use A Body Support Rig System
    Consider using an EasyRig or other type of body support rig system.
  5. Relieve Forearm Pain with A Forearm Strap
    Use an adjustable forearm strap for forearm pain relief. Those with a compression pad can help alleviate the pressure to the tendon when you try to grip something.
  6. Strengthen Your Back
    Strengthen your back by doing Yoga and other strength training exercises. Protect your back by bending your knees when you have to pick something up from the ground.
  7. Strengthen Your Core
    Alleviate pressure on your back by also strengthening your core through Pilates and other abdominal and balance exercises.
  8. Stay Hydrated and Eat Well
    Stay hydrated and eat well-balanced nutritious meals to help provide your body with essential vitamins and nutrients to keep you strong and healthy.