Chain saw accident: Life changing injury results in 6 Figure pay-out.

Published: 14 Jan 2019

Tree surgery has become common practice with the use of chainsaws and dangerous machinery often designated to the greenkeeping and maintenance teams.

There are various requirements for the use of chainsaws to cut wood – felling, crown raising, logging. If chainsaws are not used correctly, the end result could be horrific with staff suffering life changing injury, as experienced by Karl Spafford:

It was reported that after a 4 year legal battle Karl Spafford received a 6 Figure payout after nearly having his arm hacked off with a chainsaw. Karl, now 35, had climbed 30ft up a tree when the tool kicked back and cut into his forearm leaving him with a horrifying gash.

The dad-of-two, from Southport, was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Now, after a four year legal battle, he has won a six figure settlement from his employer for failing to provide him with adequate training.

This case highlights the need for robust internal health and safety policies and practices.

To avoid such an accident within your workplace ensure the following measures are taken:

  1. Suitable and sufficient risk assessments in place which are reviewed as required.
  2. All hazards associated with the task to be identified with adequate control measures to be put in place.
  3. A Safe System of Work needs to be put in place. Ongoing refresher training to be carried out with the team to ensure that SSW is correctly implemented.
  4. No Staff to use a chainsaw unless they have the correct certificated training through NPTC or equivalent.
  5. PPE Must be used at all times and to include:
    • Hard Hat,
    • Face visor,
    • Ear Defenders,
    • Ballistic Trousers,
    • Boots,
    • Chainsaw Gloves
    • Chainsaw pre-operation checks to be carried out
  6. Chainsaw Buddy System must be used – NO LONE WORKING.
  7. Chainsaw operator and Buddy to be 1st Aid trained
  8. Operators use the saw in a way which avoids kickback by:
  • Not allowing the nose of the guide bar to accidentally come into contact with any obstruction, e.g branches, logs, stumps
  • Not over-reaching
  • Keeping the saw below chest height
  • Keeping the thumb of the left hand around the back of the front handle
  • Using the appropriate chain speed for the material being cut

To ensure that your business meets legal compliance, contact CSC today and our team of experts will be happy to provide assistance. Remember that whilst actual harm may not occur, the offence lies in not managing the risk.