The UK maker of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been fined £1.6 million (A$2.59 million) for failing to ensure the safety of actors and other workers, after star Harrison Ford broke his leg and suffered deep lacerations during dress rehearsals.

While this is no laughing matter it just goes to show that those special effects are a little more effective than we might think. But on a more serious note it doesn’t matter what industry you work in you need to provide a safe work environment.

In June 2014, Ford was walking towards the entrance ramp of the “Millennium Falcon” set, at Pinewood Studio in England, when a production crew member operated a steel-framed prop door, which moved from the ceiling to the floor in a sharp downward motion and struck the actor, pinning him to the ground.

Ford had pressed the prop “close” button for the door, but didn’t expect the crew member to activate the door because the rehearsal wasn’t being filmed.

In the Aylesbury Crown Court, Foodles Production (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching two sections of the UK Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, in failing to construct the door with an automated safety mechanism or other features to prevent it from lowering when workers were underneath it.

“The power of the door was such that had Mr Ford or anyone else been struck on the head by the door as it closed, they might easily have been killed,” UK Health and Safety Executive divisional director Tim Galloway said.

“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,” he said.

“The incident was foreseeable and preventable.”

The Star Wars Safety Take Away

It’s important to remember that even if you are building a temporary structure it has to be safe. Whether it’s a door, a walk way, access stairs or edge protection on a roof. You need to make sure the structure itself isn’t able to hurt anyone and that it serves it’s purpose. In this case they built a great door but had no fail safe systems in place to protect Harrison Ford.

Temporary shouldn’t mean dodgy or badly built.

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