The company responsible for a hydraulic door that badly injured actor Harrison Ford has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive. Sentencing was due on Monday, August 22 but has been adjourned until October.
The accident happened at the Pinewood studio during the production of the latest Star Wars film. Harrison Ford was hit by the rapidly closing metal-framed door and pinned to the ground. An HSE representative compared the power of the door’s drive system “to the weight of a small car. This was a foreseeable incident,” the court was told.
This high profile incident throws into sharp focus the responsibilities of owners and managers, and all those who specify powered access products and equipment. This is according to the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) whose members manufacture, supply and maintain industrial and commercial doors, automated gates, garage doors and barriers.
DHF training officer Nick Perkins said: “This court case serves as a warning to everybody involved in the powered access sector that they must ensure that all adequate safety measures are provided wherever there is the risk of people being injured by a moving door, gate or barrier.
“Without these measures in place there is the real risk of accidents leading to death, serious injury and criminal prosecution of those responsible.
“In this case Harrison Ford was pinned down by the hydraulically operated door which reputedly could have killed him. Luckily he survived, albeit with serious injuries that included a broken leg. His death was only prevented because someone was thankfully able to activate an emergency stop – but not before injury had been caused.”
He said owners and managers must ensure industrial doors, domestic garage doors, powered gates and traffic barriers – regardless of when they were installed – meet the current standards which detail the levels of safety required.
Owners are advised to ensure that their powered access systems and equipment are checked for safety against the current standards and regularly maintained by properly trained and qualified specialists.
Added Nick Perkins: “As this court case shows, owners and all those responsible for powered access systems and equipment could face prosecution in the event of an incident at one of their sites. They should also be aware that installers and maintainers are also bound by criminal legislation to ensure that all work, whether on a new or an existing access system, is safe.”
And he pointed out that adequate levels of safety in the Harrison Ford case – and indeed in all powered access installations – can be achieved by using one of several safety features. These can include hold-to-run controls, light curtain/photo scanner presence detectors or by ensuring correct force limitation is in place.
DHF members operate strictly to current safety standards and benefit from the best possible industry training. This protects the interests and safety of owners and users alike by ensuring the correct levels of safety across the industry are applied to new installations and existing accesses under maintenance.
For more information about powered access safety, visit www.dhfonlineorg.uk .