Significant fine for workplace health and safety failings

Date: 16/01/2020
Llif heb 'guard'_Saw without guard

A caravan park owner has been prosecuted after an employee suffered life-changing injuries when three of his fingers were pulled into an unguarded table saw.

Cheshire Magistrates’ court heard that on 24 January 2018, Cai Owen was employed at Bryn Gloch Caravan and Camping Park located at Betws Garmon near Waunfawr.

Whilst cutting fencing stakes Mr Owen’s hand was pulled into an unguarded table saw he was using. This resulted in the complete amputation of the thumb, index and middle finger and fracture of the little finger of one hand. He was 19 at the time of the accident.

Mr Owen was transferred from Ysbyty Gwynedd to Whiston Hospital for emergency surgery where surgeons attempted to reattach the severed fingers, unfortunately the middle finger failed to replant and had to be permanently amputated.       

An investigation by officers from Gwynedd Council’s Public Protection Service found that there was a general failure to adhere to health and safety requirements at Bryn Gloch prior to and at the time of the accident.

The investigation uncovered a number of serious offences and consequently Eurig Jones of the Bryn Gloch Caravan and Camping Park was prosecuted by the Gwynedd Council.

At a hearing on 16 December 2019 Mr Jones of Bryn Gloch pleaded guilty to three health and safety offences, which were:

  • Failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees;
  • Failing to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the health and safety risks employees are exposed to;
  • The removal of a safety guard, which was an effective means of preventing access to a dangerous part of a machine.

The total fine awarded was £40,000 as well as an order to pay costs of £15,000 and a £170 victim surcharge, a total of £55,170.

Councillor Gareth Griffith, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Environment said “This conviction and penalty highlights the importance of taking steps to protect the health and safety of employees. All businesses need to take heed and learn from this case.

“Simple steps like carrying out adequate risk assessments, proper training and ensuring that dangerous equipment is properly maintained and guarded will help prevent similar accidents happening again.

“Gwynedd Council will always seek to take appropriate enforcement action when there is a blatant disregard for health and safety law.”

Alun Evans, Public Protection Manager at Gwynedd Council added: “Bryn Gloch Caravan and Camping Park’s lax attitude towards employee health and safety resulted in a wholly preventable accident which has had life changing consequences for an employee.

“All businesses should ensure they fully comply with health and safety legislation so that accidents do not occur. We very are grateful to Cai and his family for their patience in what has been a long and at times a complex investigation. The Council also wishes to acknowledge the assistance provided by Mr Nigel Lawrence QC and Mr Michael Raynor, Specialist Engineer at the Health and Safety Executive.”

PHOTOGRAPH: The table saw without the safety guard