Sawmill prosecuted after worker’s arm almost severed in accident at work

by Redmans on November 20, 2013

  • SumoMe

A Scottish sawmill has been heavily fined by the Elgin Sheriff Court after one of its employees almost had his arm severed in an accident at work.

Damian Gowlowski, 20, was working for Tennants (Elgin) Limited in its sawmill when he suffered horrific injuries to his right arm on 26 September 2011. On the day in question, Mr Gowlowski was using a machine with a large continuous blade to cut large pieces of timber. As Mr Gowlowski was using the machine his right arm was drawn into the machine and cut in half up to the elbow. This caused the 20-year-old significant injuries and he required over 15 operations to try and repair the damage to the ligaments, muscles and nerves in his right arm. Despite this medical treatment, Mr Gowlowski has lost one finger entirely, as well as being unable to use his right hand properly. He has been permanently scarred by the accident, is underoing pain relief, and is currently off work. He is expected not to be able to return to work for a considerable period of time due to his injuries. It is not currently known whether Mr Gowlowski has made or will make a claim for personal injury as a result of the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently informed of the accident and commenced an investigation into its circumstances. This investigation found that there had been a number of health and safety breaches by the company, including: a failure to provide sufficient guards to prevent employees being able to access blades and other dangerous machinery; a failure to supervise Mr Gawlowski properly or at all; and a failure to provide Mr Gawlowksi with sufficient training to enable him to use the machines safely.

The matter came before the Elgin Sheriff Court on 15 November 2013. Tennants (Elgin) Limited pleaded guilty to a single breach of s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – admitting that it had failed to take such steps to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees was not compromised. The firm was therefore fined £30,000 but was not, however, ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution in this instance. (note for employers- consider Guaranteed compliance in Health & Safety sp)

HSE Principal Inspector Mr Niall Miller stated after the sentencing: “This incident was wholly avoidable. Damian Gawlowski was let down by the company’s lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and ineffective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment.”

Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers have an obligation to ensure that their workplace is as safe as is reasonably practicable – a failure to take steps to ensure that the workplace doesn’t pose a threat may render that business liable for prosecution for health and safety failings.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in London and can help you claim personal injury if you’ve been injured at work. They can also put you in touch with criminal defence solicitors.

  • lauralouise90

    This is not good for a 20 year old to have been involved in such a severe workplace injury. The fact that the Health & safety was breached by not having sufficient guards shows huge negligence in his employers!

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