A company producing the latest Star Wars movie has been fined a whopping £1.6m after Harrison Ford broke his leg.
Foodles Production (UK) Ltd owned by Walt Disney admitted failing to protect workers from risk of injury.
The star’s leg was crushed after being struck by a steel door on a set at Pinewood Studios. The Millennium Falcon spaceship door mimicked the action in the original ship and shut quickly.
The Health & Safety Executive found the force was literally with Han Solo as the closing mechanism was compared to the weight of a small car. Little wonder Indiana Jones himself could not escape being pinned to the ground!
It is no laughing matter though. The court heard the door acted like a “blunt guillotine”.
“Crazy” Health & Safety
The door was remotely closed by a special effects operator who relied on a signal from a spotter. The actor went through the door and a button was hit. He walked back believing it would not close…
Talking about his experience, Mr Ford said the original spaceship’s door closed with a pulley and a stage hand “But now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a f****** great hydraulic door which closed at light speed!”
The judge said remote operation by someone who could not see was a “crazy approach” to Health & Safety.
The judge said the firm’s “most serious breach” was its failure to explain the risks to Mr Ford.
He added “The greatest failing of all on behalf of the company is a lack of communication, a lack because, if you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one? That is the most serious breach here. If only they had included Mr Ford in all the discussions, he might have at least been alert to the dangers that he had to avoid.”
The HSE said the risks in making movies had to be properly managed and controlled.
Where’ve the Mickey Mouse Fines Gone?
The £1.6m fine is the latest episode in a saga of huge court fines. Recently we reported a:
- Record £5m fine for theme park owners
- Security company fine of £1.8m
- Care home fine of £1.5m
- Manufacturer fine of £1m
It is clear that fines have dramatically increased since new sentencing guidelines were introduced in February.
It was felt the old levels of fine were too low. They were believed to be too soft to make organisations take their Health & Safety responsibilities seriously.
Fines are now based on turnover and are intended to greatly impact on an organisation’s finances.
Employers are now finding Health & Safety management is serious business!
Contact Ellis Whittam to avoid a costly Health & Safety drama featuring in your organisation!