Firm fined after guillotine horror

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Latest news.

A timber firm has been fined after a Lancaster man’s hand was severed as he operated a guillotine.

The 72-year-old, a long-serving employee of Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd, had to have his hand sewn back together after the accident, which happened at the Old Railway Yard at Middleton, near Carnforth, in June 2010.

He was feeding wood under a blade into a logger with his right hand while using his left hand to operate a lever. He accidentally pulled down the lever before he’d removed his hand from under the blade.

It passed through the top of his hand, breaking all the bones in its path and severing all the tendons - the skin on his palm the only thing keeping the two parts of his hand together.

Surgeons amputated part of the man’s little finger and he now has very limited movement in his hand.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the level of guarding on the guillotine fell well below minimum legal standards.

Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd, of Cowan Bridge, near Kirkby Lonsdale, admitted breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

The company was fined £5,000 and told to pay £5,000 in costs at Lancaster magistrates’ court on Friday.

HSE inspector Michael Mullen said: “A long-serving employee at the firm suffered life-changing injuries because the company’s safety precautions on this machine weren’t anywhere near good enough.

“The guillotine had been at the timber yard for over a decade but it wasn’t in daily use and didn’t meet the standards of other equipment.”