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Firm Fined after Employee Loses Arm in Work Accident

By Head of Employers' Liability

A shop fitting company has been fined after an employee nearly severed his arm whilst using a power saw at work.

On the day of the accident, the woodworker’s final task of the day was to clean the circular saw he had been using throughout an eleven hour shift. Llandrindod Wells Magistrates’ Court heard that after cutting the power to the machine, the 59 year-old worker opened the guard around the blade while it was still running.

As he began clearing sawdust away from the blade he became distracted by the arrival of a forklift truck behind him. When he turned around, the still moving blade caught the sleeve of his jacket and almost completely severed his arm.

Sadly, doctors were unable to successfully reattach the man’s arm and he had to undergo an amputation below the elbow.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work accident investigation revealed that although the saw was fitted with a device that cut the machine’s power if the guard was opened, it took more than 30 seconds for the blade to come to a complete standstill.

It also emerged that a maintenance engineer had inspected the machine three months before the accident and had told managers it should either be taken out of service or fitted with a brake to halt the blade sooner.

Powys-based Stagecraft Display Ltd, which design, manufacture and install shop fittings and merchandising displays, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay nearly £12,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974.

It is always extremely frustrating to hear about work accidents involving these types of catastrophic injuries that require amputations when they could so easily have been avoided.

Put simply, this work accident could have been prevented if this man’s employers had heeded the safety warnings they were given. If they had replaced or modified the machine like they were told to, the injured worker would never have lost his arm.

What is the point of having qualified maintenance engineers inspect your work equipment if you choose to then simply ignore their advice?

Employers in the UK have a duty to protect their workers and ensure they provide them with a safe working environment. Power-operated circular saws are incredibly dangerous and unsurprisingly account for a number of serious injuries in the woodworking industry.

Handled correctly however, with all the right safety procedures and checks in place, work accidents such as these can always be prevented.

It goes without saying that workers should never be able to access dangerous moving machine parts without adequate protection in place. It is the responsibility of all employers to ensure this never happens.

Damian Bradley is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for people injured in work accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Merseyside, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield, Derby & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire & in Hull, Yorkshire.