A contractor has been fined for serious safety failings after a teenage carpenter was injured when his fingers were cut in the moving parts of a flip-over saw.
George Warren Heath, then aged 19, suffered injuries to three fingers, one being amputated at the middle joint, and another was cut through to the bone.
One month after the incident Heath was attending physio every week. Heath, a carpenter and employed by Sugar Construction limited on 7 July 2014, was part of a team refurbishing a house.
He was preparing wooden door stops to be installed onto door frames. A length of door stop was too wide and required narrowing. To do this Heath decided to saw a thin strip off the entire length – a process known as ‘ripping’. To do this he used a Flip Over Saw, provided on site by Sugar Construction Limited.
The saw did not have the guard or riving knife fitted when Heath started to saw, and as he cut his fingers came into contact with the blade.
An HSE investigation found that the failure was to ensure that protective devices including the guard and protective appliances such as push sticks were taken to prevent access to the dangerous part of the machinery. Weymouth Magistrates’ Court was told that while Sugar Construction had provided a guard with the saw, the guard was not in place at the time of the accident. Other protection appliances such as a push stick were not available.
In order to flip the saw over from its chop saw mode to its table saw mode, the guard had to be removed, but was never replaced.
Sugar Construction Limited of Lyme Regis, was fined £1,500 with full costs of £1,543, after pleading guilty to a safety breach.
Following the case, HSE Inspector James Powell said: “This incident should never have happened and other workers that had used the saw had also been at risk. This case emphasises the need for employers to ensure that equipment is properly maintained to ensure that dangerous parts of the machinery cannot be accessed and that a risk assessment is carried out covering all foreseeable uses and operations of the work equipment. Table saws should not be used unless the appropriate safety devices and protection appliances are used. Workers should be provided with the information, instruction, training and supervision as is appropriate with the tool that is being used.”