Sales of flail-type cutting attachments banned in Europe

The European Commission has banned the sale of flail-type cutting attachments with linked metal parts for portable handheld brush cutters, saying users risk death or serious injury.

The move follows the accidental death of a person using such an attachment in 2010 as well as the Health & Safety Executive's subsequent urgent warning about their use and recommendation that UK suppliers stop selling them.

The commission warned that the attachments can "fail catastrophically in service" and stressed that "there is a risk of death or serious injury to operators and others in the vicinity from ejected metal components".

The accessories have several component and rotate at high speeds. Horticulture Week technical editor Sally Drury said flail brushcutters could go through "seriously tough vegetation" but in general any attachment that is not affiliated with the machine could not be assumed to be safe because it will not have been tested with that machine. It could also be a breach of EU regulations. She urged anyone still using such a machine to get rid of it safely.

"The safest thing is to take it back to where you got it. If you throw it away, make sure you take it apart first."

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