How OHL Manages Testing Across Multiple Film Sets

How OHL manages resources and staffing to ensure efficiency and quality control in its COVID testing across multiple film sets.

Perhaps no industry is as dependent on fast COVID testing to maintain the health and productivity of its workforce than the film industry. Even as SAG-AFTRA and DGA COVID protocols are set to expire, continuing to test cast and crew to ensure productions stay on time — and within budget — will be critical.

Having worked on over 300 film sets to date, One Health Labs understands the specific requirements of the film industry and continues to support productions large and small to keep their shoots running smoothly. How do we do it? With a lot of coordination led by a team of experts with industry experience.

How many film sets can OHL handle at one time?

One Health Labs (OHL) operates in eight major cities. In any one city, we could be managing testing at up to 10 locations in one day. Depending on the volume and frequency of testing needed, OHL can conduct on-site testing one day a week or more often.

How are resources and staffing allocated to each location?

The number of staff and number of supplies depends on the anticipated testing volume.
“Staffing headcount each day depends on how many samples need to be collected,” says Brianna Sewell, director of laboratory operations. Each site needs intake staff to check-in patients and hand out testing kits, collectors who ensure the quality of each sample collected, and lab technicians who run the tests. Depending on location requirements, collectors may be nurses, EMTs, or specially trained staff.

“One lab technician can process 50 samples a day. Each testing device can run up to nine samples each hour,” says Sepi Naderi, R&D lead and laboratory manager. Depending on the volume of testing, each site needs two lab technicians and one testing device to process up to 78 samples in an 8-hour shift. Large production sets may have up to 20 testing staff handling intakes, collections, and testing.


Need COVID testing on a film set? One Health Labs offers on-site testing to help keep your production smoothly. Let’s talk.


What kind of central coordination is required?

Besides the three types of on-site staff, there are behind-the-scenes staff who work with film production staff to prepare for each day of testing. There are operations managers on each site working with on-site coordinators, who can manage two to three production locations at once. Testing coordinators work with the health and safety coordinators for each production to map out the testing volume, call times, and the workflow for processing patients as they arrive. The workflow is often organized by zones. Zone A staff, those closest to the action, so to speak, may be tested Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Zone B staff are typically required to get a PCR test once a week. Zone C staff, depending on local requirements, may not be tested because they are the least at risk and the farthest away from the unmasked staff on set.

How does OHL ensure quality control?

“OHL has developed a training program to ensure that all testing staff are properly trained and onboarded for processing HIPAA forms and other documentation required at a testing site,” says Mary Higham, laboratory supervisor and sustainability lead. Depending on city requirements, collectors must be nurses, EMTs, or certified collectors. In other cases, OHL cross-trains intake staff to be collectors. There is also a quality control process for testing set up with pre-analytics, monitoring of sample quality, and inventory and validation of all testing kits for use that day. The laboratory technicians have separate quality control standards to ensure sample quality. OHL has its own laboratory management information system (LIMS) and OHL labs are CLIA-certified (clinical laboratory improvement amendments). They follow all College of American Pathologists (CAP) and CLIA standards and regulations.

Keeping things moving

COVID is a fact of life that has to be accounted for. Real-time on-set COVID testing will help the film industry ensure its cast and crew stay healthy while keeping productions running as smoothly as possible.

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