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Serious personal injury for worker crushed at sawmill

November 28 2013

A worker was left fighting for his life after being crushed when clearing debris from beneath a log haul.

Steven Cairns, then aged 28, of Ecclefechan, was crushed by an automated scraper bar when working at Hunter Wilson Ltd’s sawmill at Rigg in Gretna.

Mr Cairns suffered multiple pelvic fractures and sustained a number of serious internal injuries in the incident.

He required extensive treatment and has been left permanently disfigured and impaired.

Hunter Wilson Ltd was prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive investigation found that more could and should have been done to prevent access to dangerous moving parts.

Dumfries Sheriff Court was told that at the end of each working day one of Mr Cairns’ duties was to clean the areas below two log hauls, where debris such as bark and branches had fallen.

On the day of the incident Mr Cairns was clearing debris from under the log haul when one of the moving scraper bars came from behind him and crushed his pelvis against the base of a step feeder machine. It then continued on, dragging him through a shear point where the bar passed under the base of the machine.

He managed to drag himself free and was discovered shortly after by colleagues who responded to his screams. He was then airlifted to hospital.

The HSE investigation concluded that the company failed to provide fixed guarding enclosing the machine’s dangerous parts and interlocking guarding to stop dangerous parts moving before a worker entered the danger zones.

They also failed to provide effective supervision in order to prevent its employees from entering danger zones while dangerous parts were moving,

Hunter Wilson Ltd, of Rigg, Gretna, Dumfriesshire, was fined £44,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 11(1) and 11(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

HSE Inspector Martin McMahon, said: “Had fixed guards been in place to physically prevent access, then employees would not have been exposed to the risk from the dangerous moving bars of the scraper system.

“As a consequence of this breach, Mr Cairns suffered horrific injuries from which he will never fully recover.”

If you have suffered injury at work, call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444