Builder fined after 17-year-old employee suffered life-changing injuries

A builder has been sentenced after one of his employees suffered life-changing hand injuries whilst operating a handheld circular saw.

Bodmin Magistrates’ Court was told how David Avent, trading as David Avent Building Services, undertook a barn refurbishment in Callington during February 2017.

On 7 February, a worker, 17, was using a circular saw to cut wooden flooring sheets when the saw blade made contact with his hand. It caused serious, life-changing injuries after cutting fully through his index finger, three quarters through his middle finger and half way through his ring finger.

The HSE's investigation found Avent had no record of any information, instruction and training that he had provided to his employee in the safe use of the circular saw nor had he ensured that safe working practices were followed when cutting the flooring sheet. The investigation also found that the circular saw blade had not been properly adjusted for the size of material being cut at the time of the incident and the flooring sheet was not appropriately supported whilst being cut.

David Avent of Callington, Cornwall pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was fined £1,120 and ordered to pay costs of £8,489.48.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Dr Jo-Anne Michael said: “This injury was easily preventable and the risk associated with the task should have been identified.

“Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from contact with dangerous parts of machinery to ensure that the risks are given careful attention to ensure they are properly controlled.”

In our experience, what may be obvious and second nature to one person may not be to another and this is why communcation within the workplace is essential. We are not saying that this was a contributing factor in this instance but the hazard perception of individuals can be very different. If you are interested in hearing how you can better involve your workers in workplace safety, give us a call now on 01462 892 021.