Blade injury results in £120k for severed hand

Published: 13 Feb 2018

The impact of poor equipment safety practices can have far reaching consequences, not only for the injured person, but for the business also. This is true for a recently reported case which involved a worker sustaining life changing injuries and their employer being fined £120k

On 3 October 2016, the worker was employed as a driver by W.K.West Limited. On the day of the incident, having finished his driving duties for the day he was asked to work in the factory.

The supervisor had set up a circular saw and demonstrated the task of pushing stacked cardboard sheets through the saw to pre-determined sizes. During the demonstration, no push stick or jig was used to push the cardboard through the blade. After the demonstration the worker was left unsupervised.

Severe injury

As he pushed the cardboard through the blade by hand, the cardboard twisted and pulled his right hand into the blade. The worker’s injuries were so severe that part of his index finger and ring finger had to be amputated from his right dominant hand, with his middle finger also being damaged.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found W.K.West Limited did not provide suitable and sufficient training, supervision and assessment of the risks that were necessary for the safe use of the circular saw.

W.K.West Limited, trading as Westpack, of Cornish Street, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 with £849.54 costs

The reasons for this type of accident appears to be a reoccurring theme which includes businesses not carrying out sufficient risk assessments which identify risks associated with the task, failure to provide and implement safe systems of work, failure to provide the necessary protective guards to machinery and inadequate staff training.

As we have previously stated, the impact of the Sentencing Guidance is being felt across numerous industries with fines now running in excess of £100k. In certain instances, prison terms are also being given to individuals. It is important to note that actual harm does not need to have occurred. The offence lies in not managing the risk.

Contact us if you require help with carrying out risk assessments to keep you and your business safe.



Further reading:

Company fined £20K after worker nearly dies due to crush injury

Company fined £100K after employee losses arm in a conveyor belt

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