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Firm fined for guarding failings after worker struck by flying splinters

Date:
27 November 2013

A Glasgow wood machining company has been fined for safety failings that left a worker needing extensive surgery.

Raymond McNaughton, then aged 43, of Ayrshire, was struck by splinters of wood that pierced his body as he operated a rip saw machine at Timbmet Limited’s Shieldhall premises.

One splinter passed completely through his thigh in the incident on 3 September 2010, narrowly missing major vessels and nerves. He spent five days in hospital for an emergency operation and in February 2011 underwent more surgery after a further three pieces of wood were found to have lodged in front of his pelvic bone.

Mr McNaughton has suffered permanent scarring to his right thigh, his buttocks and lower back and continues to suffer constant pain.

Timbmet Limited was prosecuted today (27 November) after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that more could and should have been done to prevent wood splinters from exiting the machine.

Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that Mr McNaughton had previously drawn the company’s attention to pieces of wood being ejected from the machine through an apparent gap in the guarding following which a deflector was fitted. The HSE investigation found that this deflector would not have stopped material being expelled and would just have changed the potential trajectory of any material.

The HSE investigation also found that the part of the machinery which caused the injuries to Mr McNaughton related to the machinery’s ‘kickback’ protection which is designed to stop the ejection of splinters. This kickback protection failed, allowing splinters to be ejected from the machine. HSE found that the kickback protection did not meet safety standards and that had the machine met the relevant safety standards the incident would have been prevented. In addition, inspectors found that the side guards of the blade had been designed so that they could be lifted, potentially giving unguarded access to the moving saw blade.

Timbmet Ltd, of Bogmoor Road, Shieldhall, Glasgow was fined £24,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Aileen Jardine, said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. Had Timbmet Ltd ensured that their machinery met the relevant safety standards this incident would not have occurred and Mr McNaughton would not have sustained injuries that continue to cause him severe pain.

“The company did take the machine out of service immediately after the incident and have replaced it with a newer model which complies with current regulations.”

Notes to Editors:

1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation.

3. Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.

4. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

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