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A timber firm has been fined £5,000 after an employee severed their hand on one of its guillotines.
Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing was also ordered to pay an additional £5,000 in costs by Lancaster Magistrates' Court following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The 72-year-old worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, was feeding pieces of wood into a guillotine on June 3rd 2010 with his right hand underneath the blade, while his left hand used the lever. He accidentally pulled the lever down, before his right hand was removed, causing the blade to pass through, breaking the bones and damaging the tendons inside.
Although surgeons were able to reattach the hand, part of a finger was amputated and there is very little movement in the hand overall.
HSE inspector Michael Mullen said: "A long-serving employee at the firm suffered life-changing injuries because the company's safety precautions on this machine weren't anywhere near good enough. The guillotine had been at the timber yard for over a decade but it wasn't in daily use and didn't meet the standards of other equipment owned by the company."
Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing's case shows a common example of injuries suffered through an accident at work - even though nobody else was involved, the direct lack of action and professional neglect led to the injuries.
The investigation concluded the amount of guarding on the diesel-powered guillotine, also known as a logger, was below current legal standards - HSE states it should not have been possible for the member of staff to move a hand underneath the blade while operating it.
Mr Mullen added the case should act as an example to other businesses, warning them to ensure equipment always meets minimum conditions, regardless of how often it is used.
According to the HSE, the woodwork industry has one of the most prolific injury rates within manufacturing, the majority of which result from moving machinery.
By Francesca Witney
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