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In June of 2014, Harrison Ford, playing the role of Han Solo while filming 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens,' had his leg crushed by the hydraulic door of the Millennium Falcon on set. Last week, the UK's Health and Safety Executive's charges for workplace safety violations against Disney's production company concluded with the production company receiving a $2 million fine. The fine comes after the production company had pleaded guilty to two of the four charges brought against them for workplace safety violations.
The crushed leg only set the filming schedule back a few weeks. For Ford though, at age 71, the experience left him pretty rattled (warning: link contains some NSFW language).
Despite Harrison Ford's experience sliding under heavy doors as Indiana Jones, as Han Solo, he was caught off guard when his old trusty ship attacked him. Ford was near the door to Han Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, talking with director JJ Abrams, when it suddenly closed, barely missing his head, but catching his hip, then leg. Fortunately, Chewbacca was nearby, but was not injured.
The HSE described the force of the crush being the same as being hit by a small car. When the door came down on Ford, a member of the production company hit the emergency stop, but not before Ford was pinned to the ground. When the door stopped, it was about eight inches from the ground. Ford's fibula and tibia were crushed and his ankle dislocated.
Employers generally have a duty to keep their employees safe from workplace hazards and minimize the risk of injury to their employees. The UK and USA both have similar requirements when it comes to workplace safety. While the production company wanted to improve the set by making the Millennium Falcon's door a real, working hydraulic door, they failed to minimize the risk of injury. Including an auto-stop feature, like an elevator door, may have prevented the accident entirely.
When employers fail to minimize the risk of injury, not only can they be held liable to their employees for the injuries they sustain, but they can also be fined for violations of workplace safety laws. The reason fines are imposed is to penalize employers not only when injuries happen, but also when employers are careless about the risk of injury. Additionally, the fines serve as a motivator for employers to ensure compliance with workplace safety laws.
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