Forest Sawmills fined after worker injures hand at saw mill

A company that manufactures garden timber products has been fined for safety failings that led to a worker sustaining serious injury to his left hand.

Image: Morguefile
Image: Morguefile

Dumfries Sheriff Court heard how, in March 2014, while working at Forest Sawmills Limited’s premises in Stevens Croft, Lockerbie, the agency worker’s left hand was pulled into a twin band re-saw machine for cutting wood after it made contact with either the powered in-feed roller or the saw blade, causing injuries to his index and middle finger.

Forest Sawmills Limited, of Hartlebury, Kiddermister was fined a total of £7,000, after pleading guilty to an offence under Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulations 11(1) and (2).

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In a separate incident, a timber gate manufacturer in Daventry has been fined after a young employee lost two fingers on his left hand while working on machinery.

The 27-year-old employee of Main Line Timber Limited was pulled into the rotating blade of an inadequately guarded circular saw which was not fitted with a riving knife or ‘take off’ table when the incident happened on 25 July 2014.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard on 11 August that the employee had been working on the saw alone and was both feeding and removing large pieces of timber from the saw when a piece of wood snagged and pulled his left hand into the blade. 

The employee’s left hand was severely injured, and his little finger and ring finger were subsequently amputated.   

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to ensure that required safety features were installed on the machine and to maintain the condition of the top guard on the saw. In addition to these failings, the employee did not received adequate training for use of the saw and there was an unsafe system of work in place.

Main Line Timber Limited of Old Station Yard, Woodford Halse, Daventry, was fined £10,000 with costs of £1000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE inspector Jenna McDade said: "Had the company taken suitable measures to ensure workers did not come into contact with the rotating blade, had the saw been properly guarded and fitted with relevant safety features and had employees been provided with adequate training, this young man would not have lost two of his fingers." 

In another separate incident, a Gloucestershire-based woodwork firm was fined after a worker lost three fingers whilst using a table saw.

Stroud Magistrates Court heard that on the 22 September 2014 agency worker, Egidijus Norkus, 44, was instructed to use the table saw by his supervisor to cut tongue and grove boards being used to make bird table bases. Mr Norkus injured his left hand on the table saw, losing the top of his middle, ring and little fingers.

The investigation, carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, found that Severn Valley Woodworks Limited had not trained Mr Norkus in a safe system of work for making the products, failed to supervise the work and found that the table saw was not effectively set up.

Severn Valley Woodworks Limited was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was ordered to pay £1,142 in costs.

 After the hearing, HSE Inspector Paul Newton said: "This was an unfortunate incident that could have been avoided if the company had effectively supervised workers using dangerous machinery.

"The woodwork industry has a high accident rate, most of which are caused by contact with moving machinery. Employers need to ensure that machines are effectively guarded and workers are adequately trained and supervised."

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