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'Star Wars' UK Producers Charged for On-Set Safety Violations

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on February 18, 2016 6:01 AM

A British production company faces criminal charges over workplace safety violations on the latest Star Wars film. Actor Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Hans Solo, broke his leg in an on-set accident during the filming of "The Force Awakens" in June 2014, the Associated Press reports, and this led to the recent charges.

The Health and Safety Executive, England's labor safety agency, said last week that it charged Foodles Production (UK) Ltd. -- a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. -- with four breaches of workplace health and safety laws. "[B]y law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers -- this is as true on a film set as a factory floor," the agency stated.

Airlift From a Spaceship

Here is what reportedly happened on the set in London. The then-71-year-old actor, Harrison Ford, was shooting a scene in the Hans Solo spaceship, Millennium Falcon, at Pinewood Studios near London when he was struck by a hydraulic door. The actor was airlifted from the spaceship in the studio to a hospital. He had a broken leg. Filming on the set stopped for two weeks due to the accident.

Foodles Production responded to the charge with a statement that safety of its cast and crew is a top priority. The company expressed disappointment in the decision to criminally charge it for the incident. The first hearing in the matter is set for May at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court.

An Eighth Film

Meanwhile, "The Force Awakens" continues to be a force in the box office, reportedly grossing more than $2 billion since its release two months ago. And an eighth "Star Wars" film is on the way because seven just won't suffice. The film is being shot now and is expected to be released next year.

In light of the charges faced by Foodles, it seems likely that set safety will indeed be a high priority on this eighth film, if it was not on the seventh. After all, Harrison Ford is not getting any younger.

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