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A salad growing company has been fined £120,000 after an employee was seriously injured by a chainsaw, suffering deep cuts to his arm, while felling trees with a colleague.
The two employees were working together with one person holding and supporting the branches and the other cutting through them using the chainsaw. During this operation one man’s arm landed on top of the moving chainsaw.
The man sustained deep lacerations damaging the nerves in his arm.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that neither man had been trained to operate the chainsaw, nor were the pair wearing any personal protective equipment (i.e. chainsaw trousers and jacket, chainsaw gloves, safety helmet, safety boots and eye protection). There was no supervision and no proper planning had been put in place.
Pleading guilty to a single breach under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the company was fined £120,000, including a £170 victim surcharge, and ordered to pay costs of £1,864.35.
Speaking after the case, a HSE Inspector said: “This incident could have easily been avoided if the company had adopted a safe method of working that did not put an employee in the direct line of the moving chainsaw. It was only luck that the gentleman did not lose his arm.
“Companies are reminded that even occasional and ‘one-off’ jobs need to be properly planned to ensure the correct control measures are in place.”
Working with chainsaws
What you need to know
Chainsaws are potentially dangerous machines which can cause fatal or major injuries if not used correctly. It is essential that anyone who uses a chainsaw at work should have received adequate training and be competent in using a chainsaw for the type of work that they are required to do.
In recent years (in forestry and arboriculture) direct contact with a chainsaw has caused 5 deaths and many serious injuries. These do not include the high numbers of other types of accident that occur during felling, pruning and other related work.
For more details on injuries and the main causes:
- Forestry statistics: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/statistics/forestry.htm
- Arboriculture statistics: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/statistics/arboriculture.htm
HSE’s investigations show that most fatal and major injuries involve chainsaw operators taking shortcuts and not following good practice guidance. Usually the reason is to save time.
These case studies (http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/resources/casestudies.htm) show what happens when operators do not follow good practice guidance.
What you need to do
Chainsaws have the potential to cause horrific injuries. By law, chainsaw operators must have received adequate training relevant to the type of work they undertake.
They are also required to wear appropriate chainsaw protective clothing whenever they use a chainsaw.
The free leaflet Chainsaws at work (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg317.pdf) contains everything employers and workers need to know about working safely with a chainsaw, including:
- Fitness to operate
- Training and competence (http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/site-management/training.htm)
- Selecting a chainsaw
- Maintaining a chainsaw
- Lone working (http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/site-management/lone-working.htm)
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) (http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/safety-topics/chainppe.htm)
- First aid (http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/site-management/first-aid.htm)
- Working with chainsaws
- Tree felling with chainsaws
- Working with a chainsaw off the ground (http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/safety-topics/climbing-operations.htm)
Find out more
- Chainsaws at work INDG 317 PDF: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg317.pdf
- Top-handled chainsaws AFAG 308: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/afag308.htm
- Chainsaw PPE: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/safety-topics/chainppe.htm
- Working at height: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/safety-topics/height.htm
- Working with machinery: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/safety-topics/handtools.htm
- Site management: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/site-management/index.htm
- Forestry Industry Safety Accord (FISA) website: http://www.ukfisa.com/
For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/treework/safety-topics/chainsaw-operator.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to help.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence