HSE to prosecute after Harrison Ford's injury on Star Wars set

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has informed a film production company that it will be prosecuted following a workplace accident which left actor Harrison Ford with serious injuries when he was struck by a heavy hydraulic door during the filming of 'Star Wars: The Forces Awakens'.

The company based in Hammersmith, London will appear at High Wycombe Magistrates Court on 12 May 2016 to face four charges of alleged breaches of health and safety law.

Breaching regulations

It is alleged that the company did not properly manage the risks created during production; specifically breaching Section 2 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

The regulations state:

"It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."

"It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

"Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of 

  • (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work
  • (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking, for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997."

"Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) which are effective

  • (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or 
  • (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone."

The consequences

Following the incident on 12 June 2014, the actor was airlifted to hospital where it was diagnosed that he had fractured his left leg. Production had to be halted for 2 months to allow him to recover.

Although it is believed that Harrison Ford is not pursuing a claim for compensation against the production company, the incident demonstrates the short and long term effects that may be sustained when a company fails to ensure the safety of its employees.

May the force be with you . . .

By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers, whether on a film set or the factory floor.

The HSE has powers of enforcement to ensure that employers, the self-employed, employees and others manage and control risks effectively to prevent harm.

In this instance the HSE has thoroughly investigated the incident and gathered sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution to the court; holding to account those who have failed in their responsibilities