Northumberland firm in court after worker loses two fingers

A north Northumberland sawmill worker was left with a permanent impairment after his right hand was severely damaged when he caught it on an unguarded saw blade, a court has heard.

The 55-year-old from Amble, Northumberland, needed partial amputation of his middle and ring fingers following the incident at Station Sawmills in Wooperton, Alnwick on June 28, 2012.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today (March 4) prosecuted his employers A&J Scott Ltd at Berwick Magistrates’ Court for serious safety failings.

The court heard the worker was using an industrial-size rig saw to cut logs in one of the mills when a section of wood became caught on the saw blade.

He left the machine running and went to try to clear the jam when his right hand came into contact with the moving blade.

HSE found that A&J Scott Ltd had no safety guards to prevent workers getting too close to the dangerous parts of the machine, particularly the moving blades.

A&J Scott Ltd, of Station Sawmills, Wooperton, just north of Powburn on the A697, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £8,911.85 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall, said: “This incident could have been easily prevented if A&J Scott Ltd had provided suitable measures to make sure workers did not come into contact with the moving blade. By failing to introduce simple precautions a worker suffered painful and lasting injuries.

“These types of injury are all too common in the woodworking sector, and the sawmill industry in particular has a major injury rate which is over two-and-a-half times that of general manufacturing.”

More information about sawmill and woodworking safety is available here.