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Sawmill firm sentenced after serious hand injury

A company has been fined £20,000 after a worker was seriously injured when his hand came into contact with a rotating bandsaw blade, due to insufficient safety measures.

Blackpool Magistrates’ court heard how, the employee was working on a multi-head bandsaw machine at P Irving & Sons Ltd sawmill in Carnforth, when the pipes supplying cooling fluid to one of the six band-saw blades became blocked.

The machine had already been stopped several times that morning to replace damaged blades. An engineer was called to fix the issue and the employee assumed the problem had been rectified.

Rather than stopping the machine a further time, the employee pulled apart the base of the cabinet, creating a gap large enough to place his hand inside. Holding a torch to see what was causing the blockage, the employee put his hand inside the gap.

There was no interlock or sensor to this part of the housing to stop the machine, and the sensor to the top of the housing failed to activate, so the machine continued.

The rotating blade caught the back of the employee’s right hand severing the tendons. He has undergone several operations since the incident and is still unable to bend his fingers and cannot grip, write or hold objects. He is awaiting further surgery.

A HSE investigation found there were insufficient measures in place to stop the blade rotating when the cabinet housing was opened. Measures to prevent access to the dangerous rotating blade, such as fixed and interlocked guarding, had not been taken so far as was practicable. This meant the cabinet housing could be opened with the blade still turning and ultimately led to an employee sustaining a significant injury.

P Irving & Sons Ltd of The Sawmills, Hutton Roof, Carnforth pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £60,000 and ordered to pays costs of £20,000.