The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) has recently revealed that it is prosecuting Foodles Production (UK) Ltd (“Foodles”) for four alleged health and safety breaches during the filming of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Foodles, a subsidiary of media giant Disney, was the production company in charge of the seventh film in the world-renowned Star Wars enterprise. 

On 12 June 2014, actor and international star Harrison Ford broke his left leg and suffered other injuries while filming at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. A hydraulic metal door on the set of the Millennium Falcon spaceship fell and collided with Mr Ford, causing the injuries. Mr Ford had to be airlifted in a regular Earth helicopter to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The 73-year-old took two months to recover, delaying his reprisal of Han Solo. 

In its statement regarding the incident, the HSE stated: “By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor.” Foodles have commented that they are “disappointed in HSE’s decision”, and assert their commitment to cast and crew safety. 

The four breaches that Foodles allegedly made are in relation to the following: 

  1. Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“HSWA”) which imposes the duty to “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”     
  2. Section 3(1) of the HSWA which imposes the duty to, as far as is reasonably practicable, not expose persons not under employment, but who may be affected by the conduct of their business, to risks to their health and safety.
  3. Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which provides that an employer must assess health and safety risks to both employees while work and to persons not employed arising in connection or out of the company conducting its business. 
  4. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which provides employers shall take effective measures, “(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 case is due to be heard at High Wycombe Magistrates Court in Buckinghamshire on 12 May 2016.