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Company fined after employee lost finger

Newcastle firm told to pay £4k plus costs

A Staffordshire kennel company has been fined after a worker severed his finger on a circular saw.

Antony Capewell from Abbey Hulton was working at Ultra Kennels Limited at its Chesterton site when the incident happened on 11th May 2011

He was using a circular table saw to make angular cuts to lengths of timber, without the use of any jigs or support to guide the wood through.

When making one of the cuts, Mr Capewell’s left hand came into contact with the rotating blade.

His index finger was severed just past the first knuckle and he suffered severe lacerations to his middle finger and thumb.

Mr Capewell was signed off work for six months, but returned to work in March this year, as a building site labourer for a different company.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that Mr Capewell was not trained in the use of woodworking equipment and had no previous experience of working on a table saw.

South Walls magistrates were told the equipment was not suitably adapted for the task it was being used for, employees had no formal training and Ultra Kennels had no system to ensure workers could demonstrate competency when using woodworking machinery.

No risk assessments had been completed to identify any hazards or control measures at the company, specifically for when using the circular saw to make angular cuts, there was no health and safety management system or anyone responsible for managing health and safety.

Ultra Kennels Limited, of Loomer Road, Chesterton, Newcastle, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Today, South Walls Magistrates’ Court fined the firm £4,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £2,500.

After the hearing HSE inspector Katherine Blunt said: "The incident was entirely preventable. HSE statistics show that around a quarter of all major incidents in the woodworking industry are caused by coming into contact with moving machinery. Unsuitable safeguards and lack of training are widely known to be responsible for high incident rates, but the company gave little consideration to keeping its employees safe.”

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