This week Rust Movie Productions was fined $136,793 and given a “willful” citation for the “avoidable death” of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the “Rust” set last October. In New Mexico, this is the highest degree of citation and maximum fine permitted by law.
“Rust Movie Productions, LLC was cited for the plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, severe injury, and unsafe working conditions,” New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety stated in a press release.
On the set of “Rust,” Alec Baldwin’s pistol accidentally fired, killing Hutchins and injuring the director.
The OHSB had released the details of an investigation into the Rust accident last October, finding that “management knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set and demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices and take corrective action.”
The film team was found to be in violation of industry-wide safety standards by OHSB. Employees are required to “refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone” except after consulting with the armorer, property master, or another safety representative, for example, the first assistant director, if ammunition is brought onto any studio lot or stage.
According to OHSB, a preventable death was caused by a failure to follow these procedures.
“Our investigation found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety,” James Kenney, New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary, said in a statement. “This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”
Fifteen business days is the time frame given by the Occupational Health and Safety Board for payment of the penalty along with certification of remedial measures by Rust Movie Productions before the citation is challenged.
“While we appreciate OSHA’s time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Halyna’s family,” Stefan Friedman, from Rust Movie Productions, remarked in a statement.