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Havering Council fined £500,000 after maintenance worker slices leg with saw

PUBLISHED: 11:59 04 July 2016 | UPDATED: 16:36 04 July 2016

Southwark Crown Court

Southwark Crown Court

Archant

Havering Council has been fined £500,000 after a maintenance worker cutting trees with a saw sliced his leg to the bone.

The local authority did not follow health and safety procedures or provide adequate training to George Ball, 58, before he cut branches at Holly Tree Cottage, Noak Hill Road, Romford.

Mr Ball was given a cutting machine with the wrong attachment and no safety equipment, Southwark Crown Court heard.

He required surgery and 60 stitches after cutting his left leg down to the bone on March 2 2015.

The road maintenance worker, who had worked for the council for 19 years, also sustained significant muscle and ligament damage.

Prosecutor Vivek D’Cruz told the court: “Mr Ball had never read or been directed to the manuals for the equipment he used in his job, including the cut off saw that caused him such a serious injury that day.

“Nor did he know where such manuals were kept.

“He has never seen nor been directed to the risk assessments that applied to his work nor has he seen the safe working procedures.

“It wasn’t until after the incident where he sustained the serious injury that he was shown a training video.

“This video specifically stated that the blade was not to be used on the saw.”

The London Borough of Havering admitted two counts failing to discharge a duty imposed by regulation of the provision and use of work equipment.

Mr Ball has not perused any civil compensation but Judge Alastair McCreath urged him to.

Judge McCreath said: “However serious what happened was, it did not cause a risk of death but one only has to imagine a blade of this kind being out of control.

“The manual says using this type of blade may cause fatal injuries.

“Any fine will have a significant impact on the service given by the council.

“Ultimately those who will suffer by this are those who are dependent on public services.

“It seems to me that the appropriate figure would have been £750,000 but the local authority plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“The figure I set is £500,000, added to that the local authority must pay prosecution costs of £8,240.56.”

A spokesman for Havering Council said: “The council pleaded guilty in this case and accepts that it was at fault for this accident. “However, the council is considering an appeal in respect of the level of fine imposed by the court.

“The fine was one of the first imposed on a local authority under new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, which have significantly increased the likely fines for all health and safety offences. However, the council still considers that the level of fine imposed is high in all the circumstances of the case, and is considering an appeal.”


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