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'Rust' Production Company Slapped With Highest Possible Fine For 'Willful' Safety Violations

'Rust' Production Company Slapped With Highest Possible Fine For 'Willful' Safety Violations
Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic

Following the fatal accident on the set of the film Rust, the production company has been fined the maximum amount allowable under the law for the unsafe working conditions on set.

In September, actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed a cinematographer working on the New Mexico setas he was practicing drawing a prop gun for a scene in the film.

Unbeknownst to Baldwin, the prop gun was loaded while he was practicing during a rehearsal. The shot injured film director Joel Souza and killed director of photography Halyna Hutchins.

The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau conducted a six-month investigation of Rust Movie Productions LLC following the incident.

The Bureau determined the production company failed to adhere to national firearm safety guidelines, and their lack of protocol caused "an avoidable loss of life."

But some felt fines don't go far enough.

One person responded:

"It was obviously a horrible accident, but whomever is responsible for checking guns (they ought to use replicas/blanks imo anyway) should be held accountable."
"Getting fined as a company is going easy on whomever was actually responsible for checking the guns."

Someone else noted:

"It just goes to show that when you’re rich, you can get away with anything."
"No jail time, just financial penalty, essentially a slap on the wrist."

Another person wrote:

"Damn the Rust production company is toast."
"They’ll be sued to high heavens."
"They failed to implement industry safety standards."

A search warrant revealed three people were responsible for handling the gun prior to it being discharged.

The first was the armorer, then it went to the first assistant director and finally to the actor, Baldwin. An investigator said the director didn't know if anyone was on set to check whether the props had live ammunition before or after the scenes were filmed.

The company was charged nearly $137,000 for "willful and serious" safety violations.

Someone tweeted:

"[T]he "Rust" production company was only fined $137k for the negligence that resulted in Alec Baldwin shooting Halyna Hutchins."
"Sooooo human life on set is only worth $137k to the government."

The investigation report revealed Rust Movie Productions LLC’s 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.”

Per their statement:

“While the film industry has clear national guidelines for firearms safety, Rust Movie Productions, LLC failed to follow these guidelines or take other effective measures to protect workers."
"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 safety meetings take place every day when firearms are being handled, and that employees ‘refrain from pointing a firearm at anyone’ except after consultation with the Property Master, Armorer or other safety representative, such as the First Assistant Director."
"By failing to follow these practices, an avoidable loss of life occurred.”

The fine was issued for "the plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set."