News Firm Fined After Worker Loses Thumb And Finger

A County Durham-based timber processing and haulage firm has been fined for putting workers at risk after an employee’s hand was badly injured by a poorly guarded saw.

Richard Eggleston, 22, from Bishop Auckland, was working with a colleague, operating a large band rack saw to produce fencing posts from logs when the incident occurred in May 2012.

GLT (Durham) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into the incident at Aptec Enterprise Park in West Auckland found there was nothing protecting workers from the rear edge of the saw’s blade.

Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard today that as Mr Eggleston was feeding wood into the saw, his right hand came into contact with the blade. He lost his thumb and index finger and sustained a further deep cut to his middle finger.

The court was told that the age of the equipment – having been manufactured prior to 1960 – was no excuse for the company not assessing and upgrading the guarding to ensure that dangerous parts were adequately protected.

As a result of his injuries, Mr Eggleston was unable to return to work for eight months and continues to have problems with movement and grip in his hand for which he is undergoing physiotherapy treatment.

GLT (Durham) Limited, of Darlington Road in West Auckland, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs plus £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Michael Kingston said: “This young man lost his thumb and index finger and continues to have mobility and grip problems in his hand due to an entirely preventable incident.
“Had GLT (Durham) Ltd ensured that the machinery was suitably guarded then this incident would never have happened.

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“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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