The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has issued a new investigative report concluding that the “Rust” production knew that firearm safety procedures were being ignored on set. The government office is also issuing a fine of $136,793 against the production. “This is the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law in New Mexico,” the OHSB said.
The investigation followed the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died on October 21, 2021. Actor Baldwin was holding the prop revolver gun when it fired, but he has stated he did not pull the trigger. Hutchins was shot through the torso, and a bullet was lodged in the shoulder of director Joel Souza.
“The report concludes that Rust Movie Productions, LLC 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 official “OHSB ‘Rust’ Workplace Fatality Investigation” stated.
“OHSB found that Rust willfully violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act by demonstrating plain indifference to the safety of employees and exposing those employees to the serious hazards associated with firearm use,” the report continued. “Members of Rust management knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set and acted with plain indifference to employee safety by failing to review work practices, adhere to film industry standards for firearm safety, and take corrective action.”
Since the “Rust” shooting occurred at a New Mexico worksite, the OHSB opened an investigation into the incident as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its corresponding regulations. The Act and regulations also require OHSB to issue a citation for violations and complete an inspection report summarizing the findings of the investigation within six months of the incident.
Per the official statement, the OHSB has jurisdiction to hold employers accountable for violations of workplace safety requirements. In this case, the employer is Rust Movie Productions, LLC. OHSB does not issue citations to any individuals associated with the employer.
The New Mexico Environment Department’s investigation is a civil administrative investigation, not a felony criminal investigation, the organization clarified. The investigations are independent from one another and are addressing different issues. To note, New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, a bureau housed within NMED, has the authority to issue a Citation even if criminal charges are not filed.
Hutchins’ husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February 2022 against “Rust” star and executive producer Alec Baldwin, seven other producers, armorers Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Seth Kenney, and various crew members. Multiple criminal investigations have been underway to determine who is at fault for the negligence leading to Hutchins’ death.
Baldwin and “Rust” attorney Aaron Dyer, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman responded to the lawsuit, via Deadline, “We continue to cooperate with the authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the ‘Rust’ set in the first place.”
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