OSHA Issues ‘Willful’ Citation for Avoidable Death of Halyna Hutchins on ‘Rust’ Set

Posted on April 20, 2022

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health & Safety Bureau (OSHB) has released its report, concluding that Rust Movie Productions 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. New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney released a video statement regarding the findings.


Attorney for the husband and young son of Halyna Hutchins, Brian Panish, issued the following statement in response to the findings:

“We are pleased that the NM OSHA report has shed some light on the workplace safety issues that plagued Rust and led to the tragic and fatal events of Oct 21, 2021. Our own investigation has found overwhelming evidence of recklessness and negligence on the part of the Rust production team and others.”

As stated in a press release, the Rust Movie Productions, LLC was issued a Willful-Serious citation that includes a $136,793 civil penalty. This is the highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law in New Mexico. Rust Movie Productions, LLC was cited for the plain indifference to the recognized hazards associated with the use of firearms on set that resulted in a fatality, severe injury, and unsafe working conditions.


OHSB administers the Occupational Safety and Health Administration program in the State of New Mexico. This civil investigation was conducted pursuant to 50-9-17 NMSA, which requires OHSB to issue a citation within six months following the occurrence of any violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act or rules. OHSB’s authority is to evaluate actions of the employer to determine if the Act was violated. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office and Santa Fe County District Attorney are conducting independent investigations into the fatality. The criminal investigation is ongoing and unrelated to today’s citation.

Under federal requirements, Rust Movie Productions, LLC has 15 business days after receiving the citation to either pay the penalty and provide OHSB with certification of corrective action, or to contest the citation with the Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission. Should the production of this film resume in the future, Rust Movie Productions, LLC is required to abate the violations referred to in this citation before resuming operations.

The investigation encompassed 1,560 hours of staff time, 14 interviews, and review of 566 documents.

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