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Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, died after a freight train hit her while she was working on the set of an independent film, “Midnight Rider.” The accident occurred in rural Georgia, but had wider implications for the entire film industry. Her death has become “a symbol of the need for safer sets,” reported The New York Times (3.23.14).
The rare fatal accident during a film production put questions of specific responsibility into the spotlight. The broad issue is whether independent movie productions should be more closely policed for on-set safety. Stricter safety procedures may have prevented the accident.
Currently, some believe negligence and disregard for safety and common sense caused the accident.
Ms. Jones was killed while helping to prepare a shot that involved placing a bed across railroad tracks. Two trains passed and film crew members apparently believed they would have time to get the shot. But a third train sped through the set at high speed, killing Jones and injuring others
The accident is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Workplace injuries are all too common. Often times, safer methods of conducting work are considered too time-consuming or costly to the employer despite the workplace safety programs. A work environment and-or workplace culture may tolerate or encourage the unsafe behavior, even if this is dangerous to employees.
On a movie set, there is a lot of pressure to make smaller films under budget. The New York Times noted it would have cost a lot to have the railroad shut down.
A “frequent safety complaint” among film crews centers on the long work days of fourteen or more hours that is frequently demanded of the job. This means some film people may ignore work safety to get jobs done on time, even if they are putting themselves and others at risk. When employers stress speed over safety, workplace injuries often occur.
Regardless of whether the employee or company neglects or ignores safety rules, injuries can be serious and life-changing.
Workers who have suffered an injury in on-the-job or have had a family member die as a result of a workplace accident, please contact The Perecman Firm and speak with a lawyer dedicated to helping injured workers and their families in New York. An experienced lawyer can help maximize workers’ compensation benefits or seek deserved compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.