George Warren Heath, a carpenter aged 19 at the time, was part of team from Sugar Construction refurbishing a house.
He was preparing wooden door stops to be installed onto door frames. A length of door stop was too wide and required narrowing. To do this, Mr Heath decided to rip a thin strip off the entire length. However, the saw did not have the guard or riving knife fitted and his fingers came into contact with the blade. Three fingers were injured – one was amputated at the middle joint and another was cut through to the bone.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted and Weymouth magistrates this week heard that while Sugar Construction had provided a guard with the saw, the guard was not in place at the time of the accident. Other protection appliances such as a push stick were not available. In order to flip the saw over from its chop saw mode to its table saw mode, the guard had to be removed, but was never replaced.
Sugar Construction Limited of Pinehurst, Timber Hill, Lyme Regis, was fined £1,500 with full costs of £1,543, after pleading guilty to one charge of breaching Regulation 11(1)(a) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Following the case, HSE Inspector James Powell said: “This case emphasises the need for employers to ensure that equipment is properly maintained to ensure that dangerous parts of the machinery cannot be accessed and that a risk assessment is carried out covering all foreseeable uses and operations of the work equipment.
“Table saws should not be used unless the appropriate safety devices and protection appliances are used. Workers should be provided with the information, instruction, training and supervision as is appropriate with the tool that is being used.”