TV shows and movies filmed in Minnesota and other states have seen an increase in serious on-set accidents, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Despite celebrity endorsements of an OSHA safety awareness campaign, accident reports doubled from 2014 to 2015. Financial restraints are believed to be the reason for the safety risks. The campaign was started by the family of a 27-year-old camera assistant who was killed while filming a movie in 2014.
The director-producer shot a scene on a train track trestle without permission from the land owner or a film permit. The camera assistant was hit by a train, and eight other people were hurt in the workplace accident. Three people pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and trespassing. The director-producer was sent to prison, and his company was fined $74,900. According to some, however, that penalty was much too low.
Congress regulates the maximum penalties for willful or repeated safety violations, so OSHA has no power to increase them. However, fines have gone up 78 percent under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015. This was the first increase since 1990. According to an attorney representing another family in a wrongful death case related to filming movies, OSHA has limited resources.
If someone has been hurt or has lost a loved one due to a workplace accident, then a personal injury lawsuit may be warranted. An attorney could evaluate and assemble a claim by considering evidence such as a police report or an OSHA report. If OSHA finds gross negligence on the part of the employer, then a civil claim may be preferable to a workers’ compensation claim. The attorney may represent the plaintiff in court and fight for their legal rights.