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Norfolk sawmill sentenced over worker’s hand injury

Date:
16 January 2014

A Norfolk sawmill has been fined for safety failings after a teenage worker suffered serious injuries to his hand when it was dragged into unguarded machinery.

Ryan Page, 19, from Kirby Cain, near Bungay, was working for Thomson Sawmills Ltd in Felthorpe when the incident happened on 6 February 2013.

Norwich Magistrates’ Court was told today (16 January) that Mr Page was clearing sawdust from a running re-saw machine when his glove got caught in the rollers and his hand was dragged into the running blade.

Although he was wearing two pairs of gloves, Mr Page suffered severe lacerations to his left hand and fingers and has needed further surgery. He no longer works for the company.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the protective guards had been removed from the machine’s power feed rollers. In addition, all re-saws at the premises were being routinely operated without similar guards. After the incident, they were replaced and their use enforced by the company.

Thomson Sawmills Ltd, of The Sawmill, Holt Road, Felthorpe, was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,736 after pleading guilty of breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Tony Brookes said:

“Ryan Page is lucky he did not lose his hand in this incident, which was wholly avoidable. He was failed by the company’s inadequate assessment of risks, and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous moving parts of the equipment.

“As a young and relatively inexperienced worker, it is even more important that Thomson Sawmills should have ensured the necessary safeguards were in place. As a result of their failings, this young man has suffered a needless and traumatic injury at the beginning of his working life.

“Re-saws are equipped with power feed rollers so the operator can feed timber into the saw whilst keeping their hands clear – guards are necessary as these rollers are equally likely to catch any loose material worn by the operator and drag them into the blade.”

For more information about safety in the woodworking industry visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/index.htm

 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. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: ‘Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken to (a) prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.’

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

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