Rust Production Hit With Maximum Fine

New Mexico agency says there was 'plain indifference to employee safety'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2022 4:34 PM CDT
Rust Production Hit With Maximum Fine
The Bonanza Creek Ranch, where the film "Rust" was being filmed, appears in Santa Fe, NM. on Oct. 23, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The production company behind Rust has been hit with the highest fine possible from a New Mexico government agency after a six-month investigation of the on-set accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, which concluded there had been "plain indifference to employee safety" on the movie set, fined the company $136,793 for safety violations, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured when a live round was fired from a gun being held by Alec Baldwin. "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," state Environment Secretary James Kenney said in a statement, per the Santa Fe New Mexican. "This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe."

The "willful-serious" citation issued to the production company is the state's highest workplace violation. The report states that producers "knew that firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set," but failed "to review work practices and take corrective action." The guidelines not adhered to include a requirement that live ammunition is " never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage," the agency said. The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department and the local DA are still investigating possible criminal charges and several civil lawsuits have been filed, Deadline reports. (More Alec Baldwin stories.)

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