‘Rust’ Production Company Handed Maximum Fine for Firearm Safety Failures
The production company behind the movie “Rust,” where actor and producer Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on set, has been given the maximum possible fine for firearms safety failures on set.
New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau gave a $136,793 fine to Rust Movie Productions.
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The bureau heard testimonies that production managers took little or no action after two previous misfires on set before Baldwin’s accidental shooting of Hutchins, and there were documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unaddressed. Weapons experts were not allowed to make decisions about extra safety training, the bureau found.
Notably, the production company had not developed any process to make sure live rounds were not present on the movie set — a clear violation of industry safety standards.
“What we had, based on our investigators’ findings, was a set of obvious hazards to employees regarding the use of firearms and management’s failure to act upon those obvious hazards,” Bob Genoway, bureau chief for occupational safety, told AP.
The new report details how assistant director David Halls, who also served as safety coordinator, had handed a large-caliber revolver to Baldwin without consulting on-set weapons specialists, either during or after the gun was loaded.
“Management was provided with multiple opportunities to take corrective actions and chose not to do so. As a result of these failures, director Joel Souza and cinematographer Halyna Hutchins were severely injured. Halyna Hutchins succumbed to her injuries,” the report said.
A lawyer for “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed said in a statement that “OSHA found that Hannah Gutierrez Reed was not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively, despite her voiced concerns. Critically, OSHA also determined that production failed to call Hannah in to perform her armorer duties and inspect the firearm right before its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin.”
Gloria Allred, who represents “Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, said in a statement, “Everyone responsible for what happened on that production which led to the tragedy should hang their heads in shame. The report by OSHA is a stinging indictment which goes way beyond mere negligence. In issuing its penalty it finds that the violations were willful. There are no stronger words which New Mexico OSHA could have used to describe the production company’s failures.”
The New Mexico agency spent 1,500 hours investigating the fatal accident, including at least a dozen interviews. New Mexico official James Kenney said separate investigations into possible criminal charges are still underway.
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