Stalwart Films LLC, the production company for The Walking Dead television series, faces $12,675 in OSHA penalties following the death of a stuntman.
The worker, 33-year-old John Bernecker, died on July 12, 2017 after falling 30 ft. from a balcony during filming in Senoia, Ga.
“This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA Atlanta regional administrator, in a statement. “The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work.”
Bernecker, a native of New Orleans, sustained massive head trauma as a result of the fall and was pronounced dead at Atlanta Medical Center, according to news reports and IMDB.
A subsequent OSHA investigation revealed Stalwart Films exposed workers to fall hazards during filming and issued a serious citation, the maximum-allowed $12,675 in fines as well as the following suggestions to reduce the hazards:
- Reduce the stunt fall distance to the minimum required for the particular scene and utilize an appropriate free-fall catch system
- Use a free-fall catch system whose size and design that takes into account free-fall distance, the performers unique, physical characteristics, trajectory and foreseeable worker error or mishap
- Provide an adequate number of spotters equipped with individual cash pads, or other equipment, such as guidelines, to protect performers and correct the trajectory of a misaligned fall
- Secure the services of an independent safety specialist to assess the potential hazards associated with each proposed stunt and develop appropriate risk reduction strategies for implementation
- Provide and require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment that may reduce the risk to performers engaged in stunts
- Use a restraint and deceleration system to prevent performer contact with the ground.
The company has 15 days to request an informal conference with OSHA, contest the findings or comply with the citation.