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Firm sentenced after worker’s leg injured by chainsaw

20 October 2014

An East Kilbride firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker was injured when a chainsaw hit him on the leg as he slipped while felling trees.

Hugh Dorricot, then aged 26, was not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and was not adequately trained to use a chainsaw when the incident took place at Gartsherrie Burn, near Gartsherrie Road, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on 9 March 2010.

Airdrie Sheriff Court was told on 15 October that Dorricott was working for Enviroclean (Scotland) to clear vegetation and trees from an embankment beside Gartsherrie Burn, which sloped at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. As he began to fell one of the trees, Dorricott felt the ground move away from beneath his feet causing him to fall backwards and start sliding down the embankment. As he fell, the moving chainsaw cut through his trousers and into his lower left leg.

He was taken to hospital with a deep cut near his knee and underwent an operation to repair the wound. He has since recovered and returned to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a risk assessment produced by Enviroclean for using a chainsaw stated that all employees must be properly instructed, trained and supervised, and that personal protective equipment, including chainmail leggings, must be worn.

However, HSE Inspectors discovered that at the time of the incident no employees of the company were certified as competent to use a chainsaw, and that Dorricott was not wearing adequate personal protective equipment. In addition, he was not made aware of the risks involved in carrying out the job.

Enviroclean (Scotland) was fined £7000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE inspector Jennie Stafford, said: "Hand-held chainsaws are dangerous machines which must be handled with the greatest care. That is why it is a legal requirement to ensure that users are adequately trained by a competent person.

"It is clear this incident could have been avoided had Enviroclean (Scotland) taken reasonably practicable steps – ensuring that only trained and competent users were allowed to operate the chainsaw; discussing the risk assessment with workers, clarifying the system of work and enforcing the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment. However, the company failed to do this and instead, Mr Dorricott suffered a painful injury.”