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Rip saw severed trainee’s fingers

A family-run construction firm has been ordered to pay more than £58,000 after a trainee worker suffered life-changing injuries when his hand was caught in a rip saw.

Image credit: HSE

A 20-year-old employee was using the saw to split lengths of timber at Masher Brothers’ joinery site in Lewisham, south London, on 20 February last year. His colleague was showing him how to cut timber; one of the two pushed the timber onto the saw, and the other pulled it from the other side.

As the trainee was feeding the wood into the machine, the saw pulled his hand in with the wood and lacerated the first finger on his right hand, and part of his thumb. He has lost function in this hand and cannot straighten his remaining fingers.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found there were no risk assessments or method statements for the machinery in the joinery workshop. There were inadequate measures in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of various machinery in the workshop; the adjustable top guard sitting over the rip saw blade was stuck in raised position not protecting the blade.

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

Masher Brothers admitted breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £8005 in costs.

HSE inspector Sarah Whittle said after the hearing: “No safe system of work existed at the time of the incident. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, the life changing injuries the employee sustained could have been prevented.”



Kellie is a freelance writer and former online editor of the Health and Safety at Work website.

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