“Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels, in response to an incident in Jesup, Georgia, where a 27-year-old camera assistant was killed, and eight other workers were injured, while trying to escape an oncoming freight train during the filming of a scene for the movie “Midnight Rider,” a biopic based on the life of musician Gregg Allman. Michaels continued by saying, “It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC [of Pasadena, California] knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle.”
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated the inspection in response to the incident. While the crew was filming, a CSX Corp. train traveling on the tracks was observed heading toward them. Crew members immediately started exiting the tracks, trying to remove set pieces and get off the trestle. However, they were unable to outrun the oncoming train. The camera assistant, Sarah Jones, was killed and eight other crew members were injured by debris when the train hit a hospital bed being used as a set piece.
“Their failure to develop a safety plan to prevent such hazards, including obtaining permission from the rail owner to use the tracks for filming, led to the death of one crew member and injuries to eight other employees,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s Regional Administrator for the Southeast.
Film Allman LLC was cited by OSHA for one willful and one serious safety violation for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. At the time of the incident, the company employed 20 workers on the set and approximately 74 workers nationwide. Proposed penalties total $74,900. The production company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, or to request a conference with OSHA’s Savannah, Georgia, area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.
Read the full news release here.
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