Star Wars Fine Sends Out Safety MessageOctober 18, 2016
Personal injury solicitor Anthony McCarthy says the massive fine handed out to the makers of the latest Star Wars film shows there can be no exceptions when it comes to health and safety at work.
Movie legend Harrison Ford was seriously injured during a dress rehearsal for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Pinewood Studios in Slough in June 2014.
The American star broke his leg and sustained deep cuts when he was crushed by a closing door on the Millennium Falcon spacecraft.
Foodles Production (UK) Limited was fined £1.6m with costs of £20,861 at Aylesbury Crown Court after admitting breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive found that there weren’t adequate safety procedures in place to protect actors and other workers, including an emergency cut-off on the door. Instead, the system depended on the actions of the production crew.
On the day of the accident there was a misunderstanding between Mr Ford and a crew member, who believed the cameras were rolling. When the star pushed the “close” button he did not think anything would happen, but the operator activated the powerful door, which closed with a fast downwards action.
Mr Ford’s life was probably saved by the alertness of the crew member, who pushed an emergency stop button, preventing the door from closing any further.
“Everybody has the right to know that the environment they are working in is as safe as possible and that adequate precautions have been taken to prevent accidents,” said Macks’ director Anthony.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a factory worker operating a piece of heavy machinery such as a bandsaw or a Hollywood superstar making a blockbuster film on a high-tech studio set.
“Just like any workplace, a film set can be a hectic environment and it’s important to take the usual precautions to avoid communication breakdowns turning into near disasters.
“What makes this incident even more alarming is that the on-set health and safety advisors warned the production company concerned that the door was dangerous and could cause a serious injury or even death. They failed to act on this advice and put proper safety procedures in place.
“They should count themselves very lucky that this accident wasn’t even worse and that Mr Ford’s injuries weren’t fatal.
“As so often in this kind of case, a few very simple and sensible measures would have prevented the risk of such an accident occurring.
“The Health and Safety Executive should be commended for taking this action and I hope the size of the fine handed out serves as a warning to the whole entertainment industry that they have the same duties and responsibilities as every other employer.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is third in the list of highest-grossing films of all time, bringing in more than £2bn at the box office.
Mr Ford, who is 74, rose to fame after being cast as Han Solo in the first Star Wars movie in 1977. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role opposite Kelly McGillis in The Mission and his other big screen roles include Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan.
In March 2015 he broke his pelvis and ankle when the aircraft he was flying was forced to make an emergency landing in California after suffering engine failure.