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Animal shelter fined over volunteer saw injury

Posted in: Workplace Injuries 

The largest shelter for horses and donkeys in Scotland has been fined after a volunteer lost part of his hand in a saw accident. Mountain Animal Sanctuary Trust has been fined a total of £6,000 for breaching health and safety regulations. The trust pleaded guilty to the health and safety offence at Forfar Sherrif Court earlier this week.

The volunteer had been using a defective circular saw when the accident happened. The court heard that he had been operating a bench saw to cut up pieces of wood from an animal shelter that had blown down in strong winds. An investigation following the workplace accident found that the saw was missing both a top guard and a riving knife, parts of the saw that hold the wood firmly in place to prevent injury.

“Organisations need to understand the implications of failing to carry out their duties as employers”

The block of wood that the volunteer was sawing had many nails embedded in it, causing the saw to jump when he pressed down on it. The volunteer’s hand slid down into the rotating blade, severing his thumb and forefinger. He was immediately taken to hospital for treatment.

Mountain Animal Sanctuary Trust admitted to the health and safety failings as no risk assessment had been carried out on the machinery and no formal instruction or safety training had been provided by the Trust regarding how to use the bench saw safely. Gary Aitken, head of Crown Office’s Health and Safety Division, said:

“Hopefully today’s outcome will make it clear that organisations need to understand the implications of failing to carry out their duties as employers.”

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