Monday 18 November 2013

Unguarded sawblade causes major injuries

A 20 year old man suffered major arm injuries on a poorly guarded saw.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred at  Brumley Brae sawmill. owned by  Tennants (Elgin) Limited on 26 September 2011.
  • It occurred on a bandsaw, used to cut large pieces of timber, with a continuous blade revolving at high speed. 
  • The drive wheels and chain drive were unguarded and the saw-blade guard was not positioned correctly.
  • This was despite the risks being widely known in the woodworking industry.
  • Training in the use of the machine was informal and generally carried out by the person who had previously used it, whether or not they had ever been formally trained themselves.
  • Employees had not been made aware of the risks and dangers which could occur during woodcutting operations. 
  • They had not been given a push-stick which would have allowed them to move wood through the machinery whilst remaining at a distance from cutting blades.
  • The injured person, Damian Gawlowski, had not received any formal training on the machine.
  • He was left unsupervised even though he was untrained and inexperienced.
  • Whilst trying to feed some wood through, his arm was drawn into the machine and cut in half lengthways up to the elbow.
  • He sustained significant injuries and needed 16 operations to try and repair ligament, muscle and nerve damage. He has lost one finger entirely and part of another finger, and now struggles to use his right hand.

Tennants  was fined £30,000 15 November 2013.
The HSE Principal Inspector  said:
“This incident was wholly avoidable. Damian Gawlowski was let down by the company’s lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and ineffective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment. From Mr Gawlowski’s point of view, his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work, unable to use his hand and he relies on others for many of the tasks of daily living. The risks of bandsaws – where there are fast moving cutting parts – are well known in the sawmill industry and Tennants (Elgin) Limited should have put in place suitable measures to prevent this type of injury from occurring. Instead Mr Gawlowski has been left with a serious injury from which it’s likely he will never completely recover.”

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