Environment Agency Prosecuted

Prosecution of Environment Agency: £5000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v The Environment Agency (2014) Kendal magistrates’ court, September 17.

The Environment Agency has been fined following an incident in which an employee suffered serious finger injuries.

Significant points of the case

  • In April 2013 an employee of the Agency, who wishes to remain anonymous, was working at the Bridge End depot near Kendal.
  • The middle finger of his left was caught by an unguarded circular saw and had to be amputated.
  • It had become standard practice for workers to use the saw without a guard after they found it difficult to cut large pieces of wood with the guard in place.
  • The injured worker had been using the circular saw on a multi-function woodworking machine to cut two-inch thick pegs. No risk assessment had been carried out for the work and supervision had been inadequate. Managers had not known that the saw was being used without a guard.

The Environment Agency was fined £5000 plus £1300 costs for a breach of regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) for failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

A spokesperson for the HSE is reported to have commented after the case that the fact that it had become standard practice for the saw to be used without a guard made it almost inevitable that someone would inevitably be injured.

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