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August 13, 2021

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Builder fined for unsafe practice

A builder has been fined after a worker lost a finger whilst cutting timber.

Two men were cutting timber joists for the flat roof of a domestic extension, Brighton Magistrates’ Court was told. A builder was carrying out the cutting using a circular saw, whilst the worker was holding the timber. During cutting, the saw slipped, amputating the worker’s index finger, severely damaging his middle finger and slicing open his thumb along its length. It was not possible to re-attach the amputated finger and the middle finger still has no movement or feeling. It is not known what, if any, movement will return following further operations. As a result of the injuries, which happened on 7 August 2019, the worker has lost 70% of the grip in that hand and is still suffering from post-traumatic stress.

The HSE’s investigation found that the work had not been properly planned and the risk of the saw blade coming into contact with the worker’s hands had not been considered. The timber should have been secured to a workbench or similar so that no-one else was needed to assist whilst the saw was in use.

Benjamin Collier-Ware of Hailsham, East Sussex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1,969 with a victim surcharge of £181. He was also ordered to pay full costs of £3,940.20.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Green commented: “The worker’s injuries are life changing. This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

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