Young worker was unsupervised when his foot got caught in wood chipper…
A teenager suffered horrific injuries to his foot after an accident with a wood chipper when he was just three weeks into his first job.
The 16 year-old worker lost all of the toes on his right foot and a large proportion of the ball of the same foot in the accident which occurred in Maidenhead on 23 September 2011.
As a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident the young man has been left with a permanent disability, he has also since developed post traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Reading Magistrates’ Court was told the accident victim was in the process of removing some shrubbery and tree stumps for the tree surgeon company he was employed by when his shoe got caught on the rollers of the mobile wood chipper he was using and was dragged into the cutting blades of the machine.
The subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident discovered that the wood chipper had not been maintained to a safe operating level and lacked a safety guard around the feed chute area which might have prevented the teenager’s injuries. The HSE also identified the critical lack of supervision at the time of the accident and the fact that the employee had not received the necessary training in using the wood chipper machine.
The tree surgeon business was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £5,973 in costs after pleading guilty to individual beaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
HSE Inspector Daniel Hilbourne commented after the hearing had concluded:
“No responsible company would keep equipment with defective safety measures in use, especially a piece of equipment like a wood chipper that is known to be dangerous because of the very nature of what it does.
“Neither would a responsible company leave a young, inexperienced worker to his own devices around such machinery without adequate training and supervision.
“Yet that is precisely what the company allowed, and a teenager has been left with permanent impairment and psychological scarring as a result.
“It is well known that young people in the workplace are often less risk averse, and they need to be closely and carefully monitored when using machinery. It is also imperative that machinery is well maintained and is pre-checked before use. Had that happened here, this serious incident could have been prevented.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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