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$91,000 OSHA Fine Leveled For Death Of Cameraman

DENVER (CBS4) – A video production company has been fined $91,000 by OSHA after a 6-month investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a freelance videographer last summer.

“He had no way of knowing that this would be such a risky situation,” Barbie Keene Christopher said.

Christopher’s brother, Stuart Keene died from his injuries after falling with his camera more than 20 feet. He was 57 years old.

On June 25 Keene was hired as a freelancer by Lucas Oil Production Studios to help set up for the videotaping of the Thunder Valley Motocross event that weekend. Keene was standing on a mobile scissor lift when he fell with his camera. OSHA investigators determined the guardrail that should have protected him from falling had been removed.

The federal workplace safety agency calls it a “willful” violation and it’s the primary reason Lucas Oil Production Studios is facing such a large fine.

“All of this should have been prevented, could have been prevented,” said Christopher after meeting with OSHA and getting a copy of the investigation findings.

OSHA also found there was no training to operate the scissor lift.

Additionally, Lucas Oil failed to report the fatal accident in a timely manner, according to the agency.

Christopher said her brother Stuart was always safety-minded and had no clue he would not be returning home when he left for work June 25. She wants the circumstances of her brother’s tragic death to send a message.

“It’s our hope something like this would make an industry-wide change,” Christopher said. “You certainly don’t want it to be a member of your family who loses a life this way,”

CBS4 contacted Lucas Oil in California for a comment on Monday’s fines. The company did not return phone messages.

paul day $91,000 OSHA Fine Leveled For Death Of Cameraman– By Paul Day, CBS4 Reporter

  • Gary Lindstrom

    Where did this happen?

  • Tony Perret

    It happened at the track across from Green Mountain just North of Morrison.



  • Kevin Miller

    “He had no clue it was such a risky situation.”… really? he is an extreme sports cameraman, Im pretty sure he knew the risks.. There are tons of harnesses he could have worn, if he had a problem with it he could have spoken up, but he didn’t. If he were shooting skydiving and didnt pll the rip cord would you be blaming the parachute manufacturer… or him… Im pretty sure when I am standing on top of something nice and tall, I either brace myself or connect to a harness, it is nobodys fault but his own for the fall. By pulling lawsuits and trying to blame other people you are only going to run things into the ground.. Look just accept the fact it was an accident and stop trying to blame other people for his mistake.

  • Fed Up

    I feel for the family and friends of this cameraman, but this country has become overrun with the “it’s-not-my-fault” mentality.

    If you rented a car that had no doors and no seat belts, how far would you drive it?

  • Vs

    The factt is the production company put him in that situation. It is their responsibility to make sure that all safety precautions are carried out. If he would have known that he needed a safety harness I am sure he would have been prepared. By making the decision to modify the scissor lift, they are ultimately responsible and they were lucky the fine was not more.

  • EW1

    First off I want to say that was indeed a senseless and tragic accident. However, Stuart worked around lifts for many years and was very well aware of the risks. He did not request a harness that day even when it was suggested to him. That’s a fact. We are all ultimately responsible for our own safety and well being. If you feel uncomfortable with something then don’t take the risk. If you choose to take a risk then don’t blame someone else when things go wrong. The bottom line is that Stuart wasn’t forced to get on that lift. Nor was he completely unaware of the safety options available to him.

  • Hal Boyle

    Stuart indeed may have been a risk-taker, but we as a society need to do all we can to protect each other from workplace risks (& workplace stupidity)…..who is there to prevent tragedies beyond our own ignorance, at least in the workplace. Worker beware? Stuart never wished this on himself….the thrill-seeking was on the race-course, not in being directed how to make it all happen. Oil production company, equipment rental company…..certainly not intended, but certainly not following professional- protection and leading with their own common-sense. They all remain to smell the roses and to applaud themselves, & their race.

  • ChicagoCameraOp

    Since no one here has read the OHSA report, all is speculation. I’ve been a cameraman for decades, and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, Stuart knew the risks. I can also tell you he knew how to use the scissor lift, not one camera operator I know doesn’t. You’ll note one of the citations was for lack of giving instruction, not lack of operator knowledge.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen other cameramen purposely remove the rail to have better mobility to swing the camera around to get a better shot. However, each of those times a Union worker prevented it. These things are not stable for fast action camera work, and you can easily fall off, no matter how many precautions to take.

    This safety reason is why using the scissor lift is the WORST piece of equipment to get an elevated shot. They are dangerous because they are not designed to do this kind of work. Yes, people use it all the time, but in my opinion, its being cheap. Now someone has died because someone else didn’t want to spend $1600 to rent a proper camera crane.

    Yes, Stuart was at fault, but Lucas Oil is responsible, plain and simple, hence the fine. Stuart should not have used the scissor lift, even if he’d done it a million times. Lucas Oil should have provided proper equipment, namely a camera crane even if Keene didn’t know how to use it. Keene was an independent Contractor of Lucas Oil, but Lucas Oil is still responsible as he worked as their employee. Same as if he simply broke a window during his contract with Lucas Oil, Lucas Oil would still be responsible for the window.

    OHSA knows this, Lucas Oil knows this, and Stuart Keene knew this. Even if all the improper items cited by OHSA were correct in the first place (training for the operation of the lift, a harness provided, and the railing in place), he still has the final word on whether to use the equipment or not, for whatever reason. Yes, by refusing to use provided equipment you risk being fired, or never hired again by a production company, but it’s better than being dead.

    It is a tragedy, to be sure, but one completely avoidable by Stuart, and Stuart alone. He should not have used the scissor lift at all, he should not have used the scissor lift without rails, he should not have used the scissor lift without rails and with out a harness. But he did. I’m sorry for the family, but he did this to himself.

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