The makers of Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been sentenced following an accident at work incident in which Harrison Ford was seriously injured.
The actor sustained a broken leg and several deep lacerations when he was pinned to the floor of the Millennium Falcon set after a prop door closed on him. On 12 June 2014, during a dress rehearsal, Mr Ford pressed the prop door button to close the door. As it was not a full rehearsal, he did not expect it to close however the production crew member who was operating the prop believed they were and closed the door.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that there was no automatic emergency cut off in place, instead those on set would rely on the reactions of prop operators to control the door.
It was found that a combination of events, all of which preventable, led to the incident – starting with the design of the door. The door was made up of a steel frame, overlaid with metal sheets and had a tapered edge. The door moved from ceiling to floor in a swift downwards motion and did not have any automated safety features in place to halt this motion if someone was underneath.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard how Foodles Production (UK) Ltd should have had a system in place to ensure the actors and production workers were protected on set. The risks of the door causing a serious injury or even death had previously been underlined by a health and safety officer for the production company.
The court heard that had the door been designed differently, with an automated safety feature in place, the incident would not have occurred.
After pleading guilty at a previous hearing to breaching Section 2 and Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Foodles Production (UK) Ltd were last week fined a total of £1.6 million. The production copany was also ordered to pay costs of £20,861.22.
HSE’s Divisional Director Tim Galloway said:
“This incident was foreseeable and preventable and could have resulted in more serious injury or even death.
“The power and speed of the door was such that, had Mr Ford or anyone else had been struck on the head by the door as it closed, they might easily have been killed.
“It was only the almost instantaneous actions of the prop operator in hitting the emergency stop that prevented the door from continuing to press down on Mr Ford as he lay on the floor.
“I think everyone would accept that all the people who work in the film industry have a right to know that the risks they take to entertain us, including when making action movies, are properly managed and controlled.”
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Source: Health & Safety Executive