A Stoke-on-trent company has been fined after a worker amputated his finger on a circular saw.
The incident happened on 11 May 2011 when the employee was using a circular table saw to make angular cuts to lengths of timber, without the use of any jigs or support to guide the wood through. When making one of the cuts, his left hand came into contact with the rotating blade. His index finger was amputated just past the first knuckle and he suffered severe lacerations to his middle finger and thumb.
The worker was 22 at the time of the incident and had to be signed off work for six months. He returned to work in March this year, but as a building site labourer for a different company.
The HSE investigation into the incident found that Mr Capewell was not trained in the use of woodworking equipment and had no previous experience of working on a table saw.
Magistrates were told the equipment was not suitably adapted for the task it was being used for, employees had no formal training and the company had no system to ensure workers could demonstrate competency when using woodworking machinery.
No risk assessments had been completed to identify any hazards or control measures at the company, specifically for when using the circular saw to make angular cuts, there was no health and safety management system or anyone responsible for managing health and safety.
The company, who were not BWF members, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. South Walls Magistrates' Court fined the firm £4,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £2,500.
After the hearing HSE inspector Katherine Blunt said:
"The incident was entirely preventable. HSE statistics show that around a quarter of all major incidents in the woodworking industry are caused by coming into contact with moving machinery. Unsuitable safeguards and lack of training are widely known to be responsible for high incident rates, but the company gave little consideration to keeping its employees safe."
BWF Members are reminded that having a Health and Safety Policy, completing risk assessments, and having a fully qualified first aider is a legal requirement for most joinery companies. You can obtain information on how to make their machines safer by logging in to the BWF website and using our Machine Safety Cards, phoning the BWF member-only helpline, or by viewing our Health and Safety Publications.
Non-compliance with Health and Safety legislation is becoming a costly matter, as under the HSE’s ‘fee for intervention’ scheme, costs would be recovered if, during an HSE inspection or investigation, a material breach of health and safety law is discovered. The HSE fees for the intervention have been set at £124 per hour and would apply up to the point where their intervention in supporting businesses in putting matters right has concluded. Full penalties are now likely to apply from October 2012.
Joinery manufacturers who need help in ensuring that they are compliant with current legislation, are also reminded that they can get their Health and Safety audited through the BWF's Total Support Services with reduced rates for BWF members.