Monday 4 November 2013

Lancaster firm fined £10,000 after guillotine severs hand

Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd., a Lancaster timber firm has been fined £10,000 (inc. costs) after a guillotine severed the hand of one of its employees.
The circumstances were:
  • A worker was feeding pieces of wood into a diesel-powered guillotine, known as a logger.
  • The guarding on the machine was poor and it was possible to reach under the blade while operating the guillotine.
  • The system was to push wood in using his right hand and to operate the control lever with his left hand.
  • He accidentally pulled down the lever before he had removed his right hand from under the blade.
  • The blade passed through the top of his hand, just below his knuckles, breaking all the bones in its path and severing all the tendons.
  • Surgeons managed to sew his hand back together during a six-hour operation but he had to have part of his little finger amputated and now has very limited movement in his hand.

The HSE Inspector said:
“A long-serving employee at the firm suffered life-changing injuries because the company’s safety precautions on this machine weren’t anywhere near good enough. The guillotine had been at the timber yard for over a decade but it wasn’t in daily use and didn’t meet the standards of other equipment owned by the company. This case should act as a warning to firms to make sure all their equipment meets minimum safety requirements, no matter how frequently or infrequently it is used.”

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