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Accidents at work

Worker’s hand severed by unsafe guillotine

A timber firm could face a substantial personal injury claim after safety breaches resulted in a worker having his hand severed by a guillotine.

The 72-year-old man from Lancaster had been feeding pieces of wood into a diesel-powered guillotine, known as a logger, using his right hand to push wood under the blade and his left hand to operate the lever.

As he was doing this, he accidentally pulled down the lever before he had removed his right hand from under the blade.

It 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.

Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Old Railway Yard in Middleton, near Carnforth.

The HSE investigation found the level of guarding on the guillotine fell well below the minimum legal standards, and it should not have been possible to reach under the blade while operating the guillotine.

Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 towards the cost of the prosecution after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

HSE Inspector Michael Mullen 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.

“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.”

If you have suffered injury at work, call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444.

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