UPDATED with production company statement: In the wake of July’s death of stuntman John Bernecker on the Georgia set of The Walking Dead, OSHA has imposed the maximum allowable fine – $12,675 – on the company that produces the show.
“This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry,” said OSHA Atlanta regional administrator Kurt Petermeyer. “The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work.”
Bernecker died July 14, two days after suffering massive head injuries in a fall of more than 20 feet from a balcony to a concrete floor while rehearsing a fight scene with an actor. An airbag had been placed below him, but he missed it, striking his head on the ground.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, cited Stalwart Films LLC for “failing to protect employees from fall hazards” while filming the hit AMC show and issued a “serious citation” while imposing the maximum allowable fine “for the company’s failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards.”
Stalwart Films said in a statement today:
“This was a tragic and terrible accident. We take the safety of our employees extremely seriously on all of our sets and comply with – and frequently exceed – industry safety standards. We disagree with the issuance of this citation and are considering our response.
The fine comes after OSHA investigated the accident at the filming location in Senoia, GA. The company now has 15 business days to comply with the citations and proposed penalties, to request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The vast majority of OSHA citations are classified as “serious” violations, with more severe citation categories including “repeat” and “willful” violations that would result in more severe fines.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA says its role is “to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.”