Since its long-awaited release in December 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been making headlines worldwide. Episode 7 is the only movie in history to reach $900 million domestically, and is the third movie of all time to pass generating $2 billion globally. Unsurprisingly, it set a new opening night box office record in the US and Canada, making $57 million in just the one evening. In the UK records were also broken for advanced ticket bookings. It goes on and on, as expected of such an anticipated production, but its most recent headline may just have come as a surprise.
That one was less expected. It transpires that Harrison Ford broke his leg on set, and the HSE are bringing 4 criminal charges against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd for it – the subsidiary of Disney that produced the film. However, is it really that surprising? Taking a closer look at the series reveals that in fact, perhaps a health and safety incident has been looming in the shadows of the galaxy far, far away, waiting to happen since 1977.
“Star Wars prosecuted over Harrison Ford injury”
– BBC News, 11 Feb 16
This is something that actually crossed my mind whilst sitting in the super-screen, super-packed Christmas Eve showing of The Force Awakens; "Hey, that walkway isn't very safe, I hope Han Solo doesn't get thrown off of it." Well, most of us know how that one ended, but if safety was on my mind during the screening, a marketing executive of an EHS software vendor, surely it was on the mind of EHS Directors, Managers, and Risk Assessors everywhere?
Does the health and safety manager ever switch off? Do you? When watching a TV show or movie, going your morning jog, getting on your train home or during other everyday life tasks, do you often pick up on safety violations?
Light-hearted, of course, but check out these HSE/OSHA violations we found throughout the films that actually relate to real life safety issues.
3. Who gave planning permission for the Death Star?
We spy numerous health and safety failings in the construction, not to mention the fact that it’s being built illegally and probably without Employers Liability Insurance. In the UK, every day spent without insurance is fineable up to £2500 per 24 hours!
4. Death Star destroyed whilst employees working on it
Employees were put in the way of danger at work, and that’s a problem in every galaxy (though arguably an act of terrorism). According to new Sentencing Council guidelines in the UK, this would be classed as Very High Culpability, and placed in Harm Category A – that’s a fine of over £10 million for the Empire.
5. How does the Force impact compliance?
It’s difficult to predict, but in real life the Force would fall foul of compliance regulations. No employer should use the Force to injure an employee, ever. OSHA dictates that every employee has a right to speak up about concerns without fear of retaliation, but we highly doubt Vader cares about this one.
7. Lack of adequate lighting in hangars
Nobody can see what they are doing. Maybe that’s why the Dark Side is called the Dark Side, although it appears to affect the Rebel Alliance too. The HSE details the key principles in workplace lighting here.
8. The Rebel Alliance are without proper body armour
No wonder they are knocked out so easily! An employer should always make sure staff are equipped with the right protection for the environment they are working in. See OSHA’s Guidance for Body Armour.
9. AT-ATs are operated in inclement weather
Freezing conditions are not ideal nor safe for driving AT-ATs – visibility is low, there’s the risk of machinery freezing over, and Slips, Trips and Falls are likely to occur. This category of incident is already the most frequent according to OSHA.
10. No seatbelts in Anakin's air speeder in Episode III
This is a no-brainer. Not only is it law in the UK that absolutely everyone wears a seat belt, HSE legislation mandates that companies found guilty of failure to supply or maintain seat belts could be faced with unlimited fines.
This is all in good spirit, but each violation we’ve listed here is a serious issue. As we realise from the HSE’s conviction of Foodles Production Ltd., workplace accidents can happen anywhere. If you’re employing staff to work in somewhat risky conditions - for example, working with lightsabers as our Jedi’s here - you’ll need to ensure complete compliance. Not just for OSHA and HSE or their equivalent, but for your moral responsibility to your staff’s wellbeing above all else.
And that's not my only point. I asked the question if Safety Managers and Directors ever switch off, and I'm intrigued to know the answer – when is your day off from Safety? Like the Force, safety is relied on 24/7.