‘Rust’ Production Company Fined For Not Following Safety Procedures That Led To Shooting

Business

Topline

A New Mexico state agency determined Wednesday that the production company behind the movie Rust—where a gun held by Alec Baldwin fired and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins—“knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set” and “demonstrated plain indifference to employee safety,” calling the failures “serious” and “willful.”

Key Facts

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined Rust Movie Productions $136,793, the maximum amount allowed by state law.

The OHSB report determined that Rust management failed to adhere to firearm safety guidelines, which dictated that live ammunition should “never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage,” that safety meetings must take place on any day firearms are being used and that employees should “refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone” except after consultation with the props master, armorer or other safety leader.

The agency said that “by failing to follow these practices” an “avoidable loss of life occurred.”

The report detailed how producers and other managers responded to two misfires that had happened before the deadly shooting and the lack of action that was taken in response to them.

The OHSB findings are unrelated to the Santa Fe County Sheriff Department’s investigation, which is still ongoing, and are not related to the criminal charges that could be filed by the Santa Fe County District Attorney.

Crucial Quote

“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,” Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said. “This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”

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Key Background

On October 21, 2021, a gun in Baldwin’s hand fired when the cast and crew were setting up the camera angle for a scene, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Baldwin has said he was told the gun was “cold,” meaning it was safe to use, by director Dave Halls. There was not supposed to be live ammunition on set, and it is still unclear how a live bullet made it into the prop weapon. Baldwin said he did not pull the trigger, and claimed when he put the weapon’s hammer down the gun went off. In February, Baldwin was sued by Hutchins’ family for wrongful death. Reports of unsafe work conditions on the set of Rust have spread since the shooting, though Baldwin, who was a producer on the film, has denied this by posting a letter on social media which was purportedly written by those who worked on the movie, denying conditions were “chaotic, dangerous and exploitative.”

Further Reading

Alec Baldwin Says He ‘Didn’t Pull The Trigger’ In ‘Rust’ Shooting (Forbes)

Crew Members Say There Was ‘Lack Of Safety’ On Movie Set Where Alec Baldwin Shot Two (Forbes)

Alec Baldwin Posts ‘Rust’ Crew Letter Denying Allegations Movie Set Was Unsafe (Forbes)

Alec Baldwin Said ‘Rust’ Contract Prevents Him From Being Held Financially Responsible For Shooting Death (Forbes)

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