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METAL CUTTING SAW USED IN UNSAFE SYSTEM

Blade caused massive laceration and missed brain by 3mm

The Scrappers Ltd, a Bolton based scrapyard that featured in a recent BBC documentary series, has been fined £35,000 after an employee suffered facial injuries at work in September 2014. The company appeared at Manchester Crown Court where it denied breaches of health and safety law.

The court heard that employee Aaron Sparrow was working as a ‘spanner man’ which involved removing batteries, wheels, petrol and catalytic convertors (cats) from vehicles.

Mr Sparrow told the court he and colleague raised cars from the ground using a fork lift truck (FLT) where they would remove the wheels and the battery. The FLT forks were then raised above head height so they could place fuel retrieval equipment under the car to take the fuel out. The ‘cat’ was then cut off using a petrol saw with a metal cutting blade. A number of separate cuts would be made into the exhaust depending on the type of car.

Whilst removing a cat with the petrol saw above his head, the saw “flicked back” and spun 180 degrees in his hands before the saw hit him in the face. He received over 40 stitches and underwent plastic surgery on his brow and eye lid. He was later told that the saw blade missed his brain by 3mm.

Failure to implement and monitor safe system

HSE investigators found no record of formal training and a tool specifically designed for the job was not generally used. There did not appear to be any formal supervision arrangements at the time, and there was no safe system of work in place for operating the petrol saw at the time of the incident.

HSE said the system of work described by workers demonstrated that using the petrol saw in this manner was custom and practice in the company. However the company denied this and told the court this system of work was not allowed and not carried out.

The Scrappers Ltd, of Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £26,687,88.

After the case, HSE inspector Mike Lisle said:

“It is essential that companies devise, implement and monitor suitable safe systems of work for hazardous activities.

This incident was entirely avoidable and had a safe system of work been in place then it would likely have been avoided. As it is a young man is scarred for life and could easily have been killed.”

 

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