Businessman faces jail after employee loses fingers

Court hears of 'appalling conditions' and lack of training at Dundee sawroom.

Court: Mackay will be sentenced in May (file pic). <strong>PA Images</strong>
Court: Mackay will be sentenced in May (file pic). PA Images

A businessman has been warned he faces jail after a worker tripped over a broken pallet and fell into a moving sawblade – slicing off three of his fingers.

Alexander Mackay is facing a prison sentence over what a sheriff described as “one of the worst management failures I’ve ever seen”.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard the G & D Pallets sawroom in Dundee’s Douglas Road was in an “appalling state” when employee Michael Rice suffered the injuries in December 2011.

Fiscal depute Shona McJannett told the court that the incident took place while Mr Rice was sawing wood at the company’s warehouse.


Ms McJannett told the court that Mr Rice was employed as a casual worker in 2010 and given “basic training”. He was then taken on again on a casual basis in 2011 and given no refresher training.

The prosecutor said: “Mr Rice was working alone in the saw room. A broken pallet had been left lying near the saw bench on which he was working.

“He turned and tripped over the broken pallet. As he fell, he held out his hands and his right hand came into contact with the running blade of the saw.”

Mr Rice was unable to press the emergency stop button on the saw because it was broken and had been for some time.


Ms McJannett told the court her client’s index and middle fingers were permanently amputated while doctors at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital were able to sew back on his ring finger.

The court was told his grip has been affected and he gets pain in his hand and phantom pain in his fingers.

Mackay, 65, of Franklin Street, Blairgowrie, pleaded guilty on summary complaint to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until next month for a social work background report and ordained Mackay to appear on that date.

He said: “This is one of the worst management failures I’ve ever seen.

“The workplace was in an appalling state and resulted in significant injury to someone who was vulnerable.

“That being so there is a very serious possibility of a prison sentence being imposed.”

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