Last week, a cinematographer on the set of a Western being shot near Santa Fe, NM was shot and killed by a gun fired by actor Alec Baldwin.
While the investigation into how this occurred is still underway, what’s been revealed so far indicates this movie set was an accident waiting to happen.
Union crew had walked off the set earlier that day to protest poor working conditions. The assistant director was careless with firearms (which caused him to be fired from his previous job). The armorer was a young girl who admitted to being new on the job. The gun in question had been used for target practice earlier that day, which is likely how the live round wound up in the chamber–yet Baldwin was told this was a “cold” gun (without ammunition).
Movie and TV productions have very stringent procedures to follow regarding firearms: Who is allowed to handle guns, how they are to be stored, how they’re to be cleared before being given to an actor, how ammunition is to be stored, etc. None of those guidelines appear to have been followed here. The result is one woman is dead and a second person injured.
There’s plenty of blame to go around here, and lawsuits are sure to be filed. There may even be criminal indictments for involuntary manslaughter. But there’s a lesson here for all of us.
While we all have a number of safety rules and regulations in our workplaces, most of us likely ignore them. When was the last time you paid close attention to the safety demonstration on an airplane? Yet, we ignore these safeguards at our peril.
In a workplace where safety takes a back seat to profit or time to market, bad things will eventually happen. Most of the time, this might result in only minor injuries, but the consequences could also be a lot worse. The time to reinforce procedures is NOW, not after someone’s been accidentally shot.
If the Rust production had paid closer attention to this, things would be different. Last week was no time for Halyna Hutchins to die.
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