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Hollywood financial crunch may increase on-set accidents

Shrinking Hollywood profits may be behind an increase in serious on-set accidents in the entertainment industry, according to industry insiders. The problem could impact production sets in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

In February 2014, a 27-year-old camera assistant was struck and killed by a train while filming a movie scene on a railroad trestle in Georgia. Eight others were injured in the incident. Investigators for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the producer/director of the film did not have permission to be on the tracks at the time of the accident. He was sentenced to jail, and his production company was fined $74,900.

Hollywood safety standards were improved after actor Vic Morrow and two young children were killed in an accident on the set of "The Twilight Zone" in 1982. However, a drop in DVD sales and other revenue sources is pushing producers and directors to cut costs in order to increase profits, which some say has negatively impacted on-set safety conditions. For example, cost-cutting measures may have factored into a 2015 plane crash that killed a pilot during the filming of the Tom Cruise film "American Made." A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victim's family claims the film's producers were rushing to adhere to the schedule and overlooked safety requirments. According to OSHA, serious on-set accidents almost doubled between 2014 and 2015.

Workers' compensation benefits are designed to provide assistance to people who are injured on the job in situations like these. They can include medical care as well as in some cases a percentage of wages lost during the recovery period. Death benefits can also be available to the surviving family members of a worker who has been killed on the job. An attorney who has experience with these matters can often guide claimants through the process.

Source: NBC Los Angeles, "Are Hollywood Budget Pressures Creating Dangers on Set?," Jenna Susko and Amy Corral, Nov. 22, 2016

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