Trainee worker's finger severed - company fined
Published: 09 Oct 2019

The Company Masher Brothers Limited was sentenced after a trainee worker suffered life-changing injuries, when his hand was caught in a rip saw whilst working at the company's site. 

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard how on 20 February 2018, a 20-year-old employee was working on a rip saw, alongside a colleague at the company's site in Lewisham, London, being shown how to cut timber for beading. The worker and his colleague were using the rip saw to split lengths of timber - set up so one of the two pushed the timber onto the saw, and the other pulled it from the other side. As the wood was fed into the machine, it pulled his hand in with the wood, which caused severe laceration to his right hand.

The injury sustained meant he lost the first finger on his right hand, along with part of his thumb. He has since lost function in this hand and cannot straighten his remaining fingers. 

An investigation undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there were no risk assessments or method statements for the machinery in the joinery workshop. On top of this, there were inadequate measures in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of various machinery inside the workshop  - the adjustable top guard sitting over the rip saw blade was stuck in a raised position, and thus was not protecting the blade at all. To add, the investigation also found that Masher Brothers Limited did not provide adequate training to its employees, about how to use the machinery, and that the member of staff that was responsible for the training of the injured person himself, had not received any training throughout the 30 years he had been at the company. 

Masher Brothers Limited of New Cross, in London, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 - as a result, the company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £8,005.44 in costs. 

Commenting after the hearing, HSE inspector Sarah Whittle has said, "No safe system of work existed at the time of the incident. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working, and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in their safe system of working."

Adding that, "If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, the life changing injuries the employee suffered could have been prevented."