HSE to prosecute employer for Harrison Ford injury

Harrison Ford, better known as Hans Solo, sustained a broken leg when he was struck by a heavy metal door during the filming of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The accident happened in August 2014 at Pinewood Studios whilst the actor was filming a scene set inside the well-known intergalactic freighter, the Millennium Falcon.

The Health and Safety Executive’s decision to prosecute Foodles Production (UK) Limited highlights the need for employers to be aware of the duties they owe their employees and the importance of carrying out a comprehensive risk assessment to avoid astronomical fines under the new Sentencing Guidelines for Health and Safety offences.

Despite being the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” the lightning speed of the Millennium Falcon wasn’t enough to enable Foodles Production to escape the “dark side” of health and safety law, after the Health and Safety Executive announced they would be prosecuting Foodles for failing to ensure the safety of people on its set.

Unfortunately for Foodles, the decision to prosecute comes just weeks after the introduction of the new Health and Safety Sentencing Guidelines, which came into force on 1 February 2016. Under the new Guidelines, fines are calculated with reference to an organisation’s annual turnover. Foodles’ latest accounting figures show that they have an annual turnover of £73.2m which will place them in the “Large Organisation” category of the new Guidelines. If found to be “highly culpable” in their contribution to Ford’s accident, Foodles could potentially face a fine anywhere between £1m and £5.2m; a substantial increase over fines handed out prior to the introduction of the new Guidelines.

This incident and the possible level of fine Foodles will face if convicted highlights the need for businesses, including those transferring freight (whether it be intergalactic transport, national courier or last mile delivery) to be aware of the duties they owe to their employees and the public.

View DWF’s webinar: “Sentencing Guidelines – Are you ready to face the prospect of multi-million pound fines?”

For further information on the impact the new sentencing guidelines could have on your business please contact Vikki Woodfine (0161 603 5060 / Vikki.Woodfine@dwf.law) or Joanne Witheford (0161 838 0108 / Joanne.Witheford@dwf.law)

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