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Building firm fined for safety failings

Date:
29 June 2015

A building firm has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was injured when his fingers were cut in the moving parts of a flip over saw.

George Warren Heath, then aged 19, an employee of the firm, suffered injuries to three fingers, one being amputated at the middle joint, and another was cut through to the bone.

One month after the incident Mr Heath was attending physio every week.

Mr Heath, a carpenter and employed by Sugar Construction limited on 7 July 2014, was part of a team refurbishing a house. He was preparing wooden door stops to be installed onto door frames. A length of door stop was too wide and required narrowing. To do this, Mr Heath decided to saw a thin strip off the entire length – a process known as ‘ripping’. To do this he used a Flip Over Saw, provided on site by Sugar Construction Limited.

The saw did not have the guard or riving knife fitted when Mr Heath started to saw, and as he cut his fingers came into contact with the blade.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the failure was to ensure that protective devices including the guard and protective appliances such as push sticks were taken to prevent access to the dangerous part of the machinery – the blade

Weymouth Magistrates’ Court was told on 29 June, that whilst Sugar Construction had provided a guard with the saw, the guard was not in place at the time of the accident. Other protection appliances such as a push stick were not available. In order to flip the saw over from its chop saw mode to its table saw mode, the guard had to be removed, but was never replaced.

Sugar Construction Limited of Pinehurst, Timber Hill, Lyme Regis, was fined £1,500 with full costs of £1,543, after pleading guilty to one charge of breaching Regulation 11(1)(a) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the case, HSE Inspector James Powell said:

“This incident should never have happened and other workers that had used the saw had also been at risk.”

“This case emphasises the need for employers to ensure that equipment is properly maintained to ensure that dangerous parts of the machinery cannot be accessed and that a risk assessment is carried out covering all foreseeable uses and operations of the work equipment.”

“Table saws should not be used unless the appropriate safety devices and protection appliances are used. Workers should be provided with the information, instruction, training and supervision as is appropriate with the tool that is being used.”

Notes to Editors: 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive 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. 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 prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or 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. Further HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk  
  4. More information about maintaining machinery safely can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/safemaintenance/heavy-items.htm

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