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Rust Production fined $136,793 after the OHSB Report on the ‘Santa Fe County Firearm Incident’

The producer of the ill-fate Rust movie is slapped with a hefty fine of $136,793 by the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau for a “willful and serious” violation of security procedures. Read on to know about what happened.

The Firearm incident

On October 22, 2021, The Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB), a bureau within the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) initiated an investigation against the Rust Movie Productions LLC’s (Rust) administration at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe County.

A firearm-related incident occurred that injured two employees, with one succumbing to their injuries. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed and Rust Director director Joel Souza was severely injured.

The Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenny stated that “There were serious management failures. There is more than sufficient evidence to and more than sufficient evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices were followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutching and the serious injury to Joel Souza would not have occurred.”

The six-month investigation revealed that Hutchins and Souza were caught by a bullet fired from a gun held by Alec Baldwin, who on the contrary, stated that the gun was not loaded. Baldwin also claimed that he did not pull the trigger and that the gun misfired as he pointed it towards the digicam throughout rehearsals.

The Official Report

The 11-page official report by the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau concludes that the Rust Productions were aware of the firearms safety procedures were not being followed on the set. It also stated that the company demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices and take corrective action.

The investigation included 1,560 hours of employees time, 14 interviews, and an evaluation of 566 pieces of paperwork. The OHSB  concluded that an avoidable lack of life occurred due to the lackadaisical approach followed by the production. The bureau said:

“Rust Movie Productions, LLC’s documents indicate that it would follow the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee’s Safety Bulletin #1, ‘Recommendations for Safety With Firearms and Use of ‘Blank Ammunition,’ but failed to adhere to these guidelines on set.

The guidelines require live ammunition “never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage,” that security conferences happen day by day when firearms are being dealt with, and that workers refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone besides after a session with the Property Master, Armorer or different security consultant, such because the First Assistant Director. By failing to observe these practices, an avoidable lack of life occurred.”

About the Penalty

Rust Movie Production LLC has been issued a “Willful-Serious citation” that includes a $136,793 civil penalty. Per the Bureau, “This is the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law in New Mexico.”

Rust has been charged for plain indifference to the recognized hazard associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, unsafe working conditions and severe injury.

The investigation concluded that this tragic incident would have never taken place if the company has followed the national film industry stands for firearm safety. The incident is an example of the complete failure of the employer to follow national protocols for the safety of employees.

Several civil lawsuits have also been filed with a “wrongful demise” swimsuit by the family members of Hutchins. The defendants include Baldwin, Rust producers and other crew members. Read the aforementioned report to understand this incident closely.

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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