A young worker lost a thumb and index finger after he was injured by a poorly guarded saw at work, a court heard.
Richard Eggleston’s employer, timber processing and haulage firm GLT (Durham) Ltd, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 costs and a £120 victim surcharge after admitting it breached the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard the 22-year-old and a colleague were using a large band rack saw to make fence posts out of logs when the accident happened in May 2012.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, said Mr Eggleston’s hand came into contact with the blade as he fed wood into the saw at Aptec Enterprise Park in West Auckland, County Durham.
Following the accident Mr Eggleston was unable to go back to work for eight months and is still undergoing physiotherapy for ongoing problems with his grip and hand movement, magistrates heard.
The HSE said its investigation had found there was no guard in place to protect workers from the rear edge of the saw’s blade.
It said although the equipment was made before 1960 that was no excuse for the firm not assessing and upgrading its guarding to make sure the dangerous parts were properly protected.
Following the court case HSE inspector Michael Kingston said Mr Eggleston continued to have mobility and grip problems in his hand due to an accident at work that had been “entirely preventable”.
He added: “Had GLT (Durham) Ltd ensured that the machinery was suitably guarded then this incident would never have happened.
“Serious, life-affecting injuries are all too common in woodworking industries and the sawmill industry in particular has a major injury rate which is over two and a half times that of general manufacturing.”
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