Disney fined $2.7m for Harrison Ford's Star Wars injury

Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, left, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo were rehearsing for a scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Ford was injured.
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, left, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo were rehearsing for a scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Ford was injured.

A film production company owned by Disney has been fined £1.6million today after actor Harrison Ford was crushed by a hydraulic door during filming for the latest Star Wars movie.

The 74-year-old star was knocked to the ground and pinned down by the heavy door while filming for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire in June 2014.

He could have been killed by the door on the set of the Millennium Falcon spaceship, which crushed him like a "blunt-edged guillotine", a court heard.

Hollywood star Ford, who was aged 71 at the time, was reprising his role as Han Solo
when he was hit by the hydraulic door, which had been designed to mimic the action of a door on the original set.

Ford broke his leg in the accident.
Ford broke his leg in the accident.

Ford suffered a broken tibia and fibula, a dislocated ankle and a cut hand in the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive said the power of the rapidly closing metal-framed door meant Ford was hit with a power comparable to the weight of a small car.
Foodles Production (UK) Ltd, which is owned by Disney and set up specifically for the making of the film, was fined a total of £1.6 million ($2.7m) today after admitting two counts of breaching its health and safety duties.

Judge Francis Sheridan said the firm had failed to communicate its risk assessment to Ford.

"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."

Aylesbury Crown Court was told that the scene being shot involved Ford helping his injured Wookiee friend Chewbacca aboard the ship then shutting the door behind him.

Ford had gone through the door and hit a button. He started to walk back through it, believing the set was not live - it was a rehearsal - and that it would not close.

But it was remotely operated by another person, and as the star passed underneath he was hit in the pelvic area and pinned to the ground.

Director JJ Abrams and Ford screamed for the door to be lifted but it could not be done manually and he had to be released by the controller.

The court previously heard there had been a "risk of death".

Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said: "In any construction project there is a need for safety. It is something that has to be planned.

Harrison Ford was knocked to the ground and pinned down by the heavy door on the set of the Millennium Falcon spaceship at Pinewood Studios.
Harrison Ford was knocked to the ground and pinned down by the heavy door on the set of the Millennium Falcon spaceship at Pinewood Studios.


"During the making of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the actor Harrison Ford sustained injuries as a result of being struck by a hydraulically powered vertical sliding door that was part of a film set.

"Part of the concept of the film was that the original actors and scene locations of the previous films would be used.

"The area [the door] was known within the film production as the carousal. The door was designed to ensure rapid closure.

"The door was designed for a film but that is just a species of workplace where the same requirements of safety are imposed as anywhere else."

The door was operated by a person sitting behind a screen and pressing the button.
However, when the operator closed the door she did not realise Ford was planning to go back through and he became trapped.

The actor was flown to Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital from the set of the much-anticipated latest instalment in the Star Wars saga.

Marshall continued: "It is obvious that the door and humans should be kept apart because the effect of this door is like a blunt-edged guillotine.

"Mr Ford suffered fractures to his fibula and fractures to his tibula and he had a dislocated ankle.

"The risk was serious, it was significant and it was dangerous. The force [from the door] was capable of being massive."

Harrison Ford broke his leg in the accident.
Harrison Ford broke his leg in the accident.

Charles Gibson, defending, told Judge Francis Sheridan that an employee seated near Ford was tasked with letting the production assistant know when to close the door.

He had an emergency stop button should something go wrong, but the button could not be activated fast enough to stop it crushing Ford.

"It is most unfortunate and regrettable that this went wrong," said Gibson. "Peter Notley [a production supervisor] waited for Mr Ford to press the button.

"He waited until he thought he was far away from the door. He was expecting Mr Ford to continue away from the door but at that most unfortunate moment Mr Ford continued moving towards the door and he was struck by it."

Harrison Ford, at the European premiere of The Force Awakens in London's Leicester Square last December, could have been killed in the incident, the court was previously told.
Harrison Ford, at the European premiere of The Force Awakens in London's Leicester Square last December, could have been killed in the incident, the court was previously told.

The actor previously talked on the Jonathan Ross Show about the accident, saying that in the original film a door would have been closed with a pulley and a stage hand.

He added: "But now we had lots of money and technology and so they built a f***ing great hydraulic door which closed at light speed."

Foodles pleaded guilty to one count under section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which related to a breach of duty in relation to employees.

It also pleaded guilty to a second under section three, a breach over people not employed by the company.

Ford said in a statement to the Health and Safety Executive: "The protocol was not followed and the scene was different to how it would be if the door was supposed to be closed."

After the sentencing, Matt Kyle, a senior health and safety associate at law firm Burges Salmon, said: 'We may see lots of Star Wars puns today but, as this decision shows, putting people's lives at risk at work is no laughing matter.

"Health and safety in the workplace should be taken very seriously. Under health and safety law, a company has a duty to control risks to the safety of its employees and other persons created by its business activities.

"This is a reminder that when the operation of a company creates a potential risk to other persons, those risks must be assessed and suitable measures applied."

Although Foodles was set up purely for the production of the film and was shut down after completion, Disney itself will not face a penalty for the incident.

Ford recovered to continue filming the movie which became the highest grossing film in UK box office history last year.

Disney also owns the Lucasfilm production company behind the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film franchises.

- Daily Mail

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