NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau released the results of its investigation where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” in October 2021 by actor Alec Baldwin.
The report finds that Rust Movie Productions, LLC management knew that firearm safety procedures were not followed on set and showed indifference to employee safety. The production company was issued a Willful-Serious citation that includes a $136,793 penalty. This is the maximum fine and highest level of citation allowed by state law in New Mexico.
Under federal requirements, the production company has 15 days after receiving the citation to pay the penalty or provide OHSB with certification of corrective action, or to contest the citation. According to the report’s findings, there were a number of unsafe firearm incidents on the set of ‘Rust” leading up to the death of Hutchins.
“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,” said Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney in a news release. “This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.” View the Secretary’s full video statement.
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- Warrant reveals gun not thoroughly checked before movie set shooting; sheriff not ruling out charges
- Crew member who gave Baldwin gun subject of prior complaint
- Halyna Hutchins: What we know about the cinematographer killed by prop gun
- Sheriff: Alec Baldwin discharged prop gun on movie set that killed 1, injured another
According to the reports, on October 14, it was brought to the attention of the movie’s line producer that there were two incidents where a shotgun was left unattended after a scene. This is a violation of safety bulletins issued by the Industry Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee. The investigation shows no action was taken after these incidents.
Then on October 16, there were two firearm misfires on the set of ‘Rust.’ In the first misfire, the movie’s props master inadvertently fired a blank round as they finished loading a .45 caliber revolver that was aimed at the ground. In the second misfire on the same day, the stunt double for Baldwin was involved in a misfire of a lever-action rifle. The report found that it’s unknown how the misfire happened or who was present at the time. In that incident, a stunt double stated, “it just went off.”
Then on October 20, the 1st assistant camera resigned from their position. The resignation cites safety concerns among other issues. In an email to the Unit Production Manager the 1st camera assistant states “so far, there have been two accidental weapons discharges and one accidental SFX explosive that have gone off around the crew between takes.” The email also stated “To be clear there are NO safety meetings these days. There have been NO explanations as to what to expect for these shots.”
Hutchins was killed on October 21 when Alec Baldwin fired a modern replica of a Colt .45 caliber revolver, “Long Colt” prop gun, not knowing it contained a live round. The bullet also injured the movie’s director Joel Souza.
The overall investigation found the movie’s armorer (responsible for storage, maintenance, handling of firearms and ammunition on set, and training members of the cast who handle firearms) was also required to perform the role of props assistant. In an email from the props master, the movie’s armorer was informed they were allowed eight paid days at the armor’s rate in their contract to perform armorer tasks. The rest of their time was to be spent as props assistants.
New Mexico Environment Department of Occupational Health and Safety Bureau stated the following as their conclusion to the report:
As a result of the inspection, OHSB determined that Rust was responsible for a serious violation of the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Act (“the Act”). While no specific state or federal OSHA standards exist for firearms used in the film industry, it is clear both the employer and the film industry recognized the hazard associated with the use of firearms on movie sets, and the potential for serious injury to employees. Further, Rust demonstrated plain indifference to the safety of employees by ignoring recognized hazards inherent to the use of firearms and ammunition by failing to take appropriate corrective or investigative actions after two firearms-related incidents (misfires) occurred on October 16, 2021, and after employee(s) notified management that they did not feel safe with how weapons were being handled on set. Rust failed to follow company safety procedures, which likely would have prevented the accident from occurring.