Elgin sawmill fined over 'wholly avoidable' accident

A sign for the Tennants (Elgin) Ltd sawmill firm
Image caption The sawmill firm has apologised to Mr Gawlowski

A sawmill firm has been fined £30,000 after a young worker was injured in a "wholly avoidable" accident.

Damian Gawlowski, 20, lost full use of his arm after it was pulled into unguarded machinery at Tennants (Elgin) Ltd.

The incident, which took place on 26 September 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

The firm admitted breaking the law under the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined at Elgin Sheriff Court.

Mr Gawlowski was using a machine to cut large pieces of timber with a blade revolving at high speed.

His arm became entangled in the machine, resulting in the loss of a finger and damage to ligaments, muscles and nerves.

'Life destroyed'

He underwent 16 operations, but remains on pain relief and is unlikely to be able to return to work for some time.

Health and Safety Executive principal inspector Niall Miller said: "This incident was wholly avoidable.

"Mr 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."

He added: "From Mr Gawlowski's point of view, his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work, unable to use his hand and he relies on others for many of the tasks of daily living."

'Lessons learned'

HSE said its investigation revealed that the saw-blade guard was positioned incorrectly.

Additionally, Mr Gawlowski was not trained to use the machine and was left unsupervised despite his inexperience.

Gavin Tennant, managing director at the sawmill firm, said: "We'd certainly apologise to (Mr Gawlowski) and his family. Lessons have been learned."

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