Health & Safety News

News added on 07.10.2019

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Inadequate training resulted in severed finger

A construction firm’s trainee suffered life-changing injuries while working with a rip saw. What lessons can be learned from this accident?

The 20-year-old trainee was being shown by a colleague how to cut timber for beading in Masher Brothers Ltd’s joinery workshop. They were working together, splitting lengths of timber by the trainee feeding the wood into a rip saw machine while his colleague pulled it through from the other side.

As the trainee was feeding a piece of timber into the machine, the saw pulled his hand in with it. He suffered a severe laceration to his right hand, losing his index finger and part of his thumb. He has lost function in his hand as a result of the injury and cannot straighten his remaining fingers.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that there were no risk assessments or method statements for the machinery in the joinery workshop. There were also inadequate measures in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machinery. The adjustable top guard on the rip saw in question was stuck in a raised position, so offered no protection from the blade.

The investigation also found that the construction firm did not provide adequate training to its employees on how to use the machinery. The member of staff responsible for training the injured person had not himself received any training in the 30 years he had been employed by the company.

Masher Brothers Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching its duty under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay over £8,000 in costs.

Training needs to be based on a safe system of work and delivered by a competent person. In this case, the employer had no safe systems in place for using dangerous machinery and had not trained its employees to use the machinery safely. The more experienced employee had received no training in using the equipment safely, so should not have been tasked with training and supervising the trainee.

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