Safety Precautions Always—Even When the Cameras Roll

A spokesman for HSE said, "By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers—this is as true on a film set as a factory floor."

Even The Walt Disney Studios' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"—the #1 U.S. movie of all time that topped $2 billion in worldwide box office receipts in February 2016—is not above the law. And we should be thankful for that.

On Feb. 11, 2016, a few days after Disney confirmed it shortly expected the blockbuster movie to pass the $2 billion threshold on its 53rd day of global release, Britain’s Health and Safety Executive announced it had charged Foodles Production (UK) Ltd over an incident that injured actor Harrison Ford during the filming of “The Forces Awakens” on June 12, 2014, at the famed Pinewood Studios. (Ford suffered a broken leg and other injuries when he was hit by a heavy hydraulic metal door on the set.) Foodles Production, based in London, is scheduled to make a court appearance May 12 to face four charges.

A spokesman for HSE said, “HSE has today informed Foodles Production (UK) Ltd that it will be prosecuted over four alleged breaches of health and safety law. . . . By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers—this is as true on a film set as a factory floor. We have investigated thoroughly and believe that we have sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.”

The four charges are for alleged violations of:

  • Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which states: "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."
  • Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, which states: "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."
  • Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which states: "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; and (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."
  • Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which states: "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."

It's good to keep in mind that prevention and best practices are necessary for any workplace, even a big movie set.

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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