A sawmill, where machinery caused a worker to lose the lower half of his leg, has been fined £400,000.
The incident occurred in 2016 at A & J Scott’s in Northumberland, after a worker tried to clear a blockage on the feed of a lumber edger. He climbed onto the machine, which uses saws to straighten and smooth rough lumber, and found himself caught up in the moving parts. This caused him to be thrown forwards and his leg was cut off below the knee by a saw blade.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the accident and found the sawmill had not taken the preventative measures necessary to ensure access to the machine’s dangerous moving parts was prohibited.
The HSE investigation also found that those who worked at height were not safeguarded while operating the machine and there was nothing to stop workers climbing onto it while it was connected to a power supply.
The company pleaded guilty to the charge levelled against it – that of breaching regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act – and fined £400,000. It was also ordered to pay costs of £3,392.
It was not the first time A & J Scott had received a fine following a workplace accident. In 2014, the sawmill was found to have breached the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, after an unguarded log-saw blade sliced off an employee’s fingers. For this it was fined £4,000.
Commenting on the latest case, HSE inspector Paul Wilson said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.
“Had this been done then this worker would not have received life changing injuries.”
Lara Murray, a Palmers Associate and employment law expert, said: “Health and Safety laws are there for a reason and no matter how many times someone goes on about how it is ‘health and safety gone mad’, it is tragic events such as this that remind us how important these rules actually are.
“Had health and safety been taken a little more seriously at the sawmill involved in this case, then not only could this terrible accident have been avoided, but the worker in question would not have suffered such a catastrophic and life changing injury.”
There are heavy fines for businesses that fail to follow health and safety regulations. To ensure your business is compliant and avoid a financial penalty, contact our health and safety department today.