“The skin on his palm was the only thing left keeping the two parts of his hand together” Asons Solicitors Comment

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According to the HSE, a Lancaster timber firm has been fined for serious safety breaches, after a guillotine severed the hand of one of its employees. (1)

the first of November 2013, Lancaster-based Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE,) following an accident which occurred at the Old Railway Yard in Middleton, near Carnforth, on 3rd June 2010. (1)

Lancaster Magistrates’ Court heard that a 72-year-old employee of Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd had been feeding planks into a logger- a diesel powered-guillotine used to cut the wood. He was using his right hand to maneuver the wood, and his left hand to operate the machine’s lever. (1)

As he was operating the logger, he accidentally activated the lever, before his right hand was clear of the machine’s blade. It sliced through his hand, just below his knuckles. As a result of the accident he broke all the bones in the blade’s path, severing all the tendons in his hand. The two parts of his crippled hand were only kept together by the skin of his palm. (1)

After the accident, a team of surgeons managed to sew his hand back together during a six-hour operation, however, due to the severity of his injuries he had to have part of his little finger amputated, and he now has very limited mobility in his hand. (1)

The HSE investigation which followed, found that the level of guarding around the guillotine was nowhere near the required legal standards, and it should not have been possible for any employee to reach under the guillotine blade while operating the logger machine. (1)

Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd, who specialise in fencing, clearance surgery, and projects, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. (1)

Commenting on the accident, Thomas Fairclough, Asons Executive at Asons Solicitors stated that:

“Any health and safety compensation awarded, as a result of this accident, can’t undo the damage caused; this horrific accident at work could have been easily avoided, had the correct level of guarding been in place - in this case they weren’t”

As a result of the incident, the company of Crown Bridge in Kirkby Longsdale, was fined £5,000, and ordered to pay £5,000 towards the cost of the prosecution. (1)

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Michael Mullen said:
“A long-serving employee at the firm suffered life-changing injuries because the company’s safety precautions on this machine weren’t anywhere near good enough. (1)

“The guillotine had been at the timber yard for over a decade but it wasn’t in daily use and didn’t meet the standards of other equipment owned by the company. (1)

“This case should act as a warning to firms to make sure all their equipment meets minimum safety requirements, no matter how frequently or infrequently it is used.” (1)

According to the HSE, the woodworking industry has one of the highest accident rates in manufacturing, most of which are caused by contact with moving machinery. This accounted for 25% of all major accidents, and one of last year’s two deaths in the woodworking industry. (2)

Asons Solicitors suggest, that if someone would like to learn more about how to deal with the consequences of an accident at work, or if they would like to better understand industrial diseases associated with the woodworking industry, such as vibration white finger and occupational deafness, that such information is available at http://www.asons.co.uk, or via an expert helpline on 01204 521 133.

(1)    Timber firm fined after guillotine severs worker’s hand- http://press.hse.gov.uk/2013/timber-firm-fined-after-guillotine-severs-workers-hand/ – HSE November 2013
(2)    Health and safety in the woodworking industry - http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/ - HSE November 2013

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About Asons Solicitors:

Asons Solicitors is a Bolton-based law practice that specialises in personal injury and industrial disease claims. Founded by brothers Imran Akram and Kamran Akram, Asons Solicitors has developed to become a young and dynamic law firm that delivers practical solutions to clients in times of difficulty. Their continued focus on their staff has seen them awarded with the Investors in People “Gold Award”; which is reflected in the professional and personable approach they take in working with clients. They strive to grow and to develop, and their supportiveness and attention to detail ensures that their clients use them time and again.

For further information contact:
Email: info(at)asons(dot)co.uk
Website: http://www.asons.co.uk

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Imran Akram
Asons Solicitors

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