A self-employed carpenter was severely injured while using an unguarded bench saw as he worked on the refurbishment of flats in Westminster. He was feeding timber through the bench saw when the wood slipped and the twenty two year old caught his hand on the saw blade, severing half of his little and ring fingers.
The injuries resulted in a series of operations and ongoing treatment to repair nerves and tendons. It also resulted in the termination of the man’s career as a carpenter. Sadly, this accident was entirely preventable, as a simple guard on the bench saw would have allowed the carpenter to work in safety.
The contractor who had employed the young man was prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations. The company was found guilty and fined £7,500 plus court costs of almost four thousand pounds.
Thorough risk assessments and adequate health and safety training are essential if these kinds of accidents are to be avoided. Often, the costs involved in conducting risk assessments and implementing safety measures and procedures are well below those incurred in the event of prosecution, and do not compare with the cost to a person’s health and wellbeing in the case of an accident.