Recycling firm fined over £20k after worker loses fingers in saw accident

Barry Pae lost four fingers after a mechanical saw activated without warning at William Russell & Sons.

Recycling firm William Russell & Sons in Fife fined over £20k after worker loses four fingers in saw accident Digby Brown via Supplied

WARNING: Graphic images below.

A Fife recycling firm has been fined over £20,000 after a worker lost his fingers in a horror accident involving a saw.

In April 2021, Barry Pae, from Dunfermline, was tasked with changing the cutting blade on a copper granulator for William Russell & Sons – when it activated without warning.

The blades spun off at high speed – and instantly severed all four fingers from the 43-year-old’s left hand.

After quick-thinking colleagues put a tourniquet on Barry’s upper arm and retrieved his fingers from the machine, he was rushed to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

“I knew straight away things were bad”, Barry said.

Barry was rushed to hospital but his fingers could not be reattached. Supplied

“Pretty much as soon as it all started up I saw my fingers just lying there in the machine.

“It was hard to comprehend. I was just silenced with shock.

“I then managed to shout for help – at first my colleague thought I was joking when I said I lost my fingers but when I showed him my hand he went white.”

Metal merchants William Russell & Sons Ltd yesterday admitted on Thursday health and safety failings that led to Barry’s severe injury and permanent impairment.

But Barry – whose medical treatment is still ongoing – said no fine could reflect the pain he has endured and the agonising changes to his future.

A metal plate was installed in his wrist. Digby Brown via Supplied

He said: “There’s no two ways about it – this injury changed my life.”

At hospital, Barry was informed that his fingers could not be reattached and that a metal plate would need to installed in his fractured wrist.

The father-of-one said that following the accident, he has been left “unable to work and live a normal life”.

Bosses from William Russell & Sons Ltd admitted at breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations Act 1974 Dunfermline Sheriff Court on Thursday.

This means that they failed to keep the granulator machine in good working order and failing to provide Barry with training, instructions and supervision.

They received a £24,000 fine which was reduced from £35,000 due to the early plea.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Krista Johnston said: “Assessing the seriousness of the offence it’s clear there should have been checks on the machine every seven days.

“It’s clear that adequate training and written instructions were not provided.”

Barry added: “I’ve been left unable to work and unable to live a normal independent life – little things like not being able to hold your partner’s hand just add to the devastation.

“No fine on William Russell & Sons would ever be enough as it could never reflect the damage done to me and my family but it is right that it was held accountable for what happened – just personally getting recognition has been important for me.

“I’d like to thank the three work pals who helped me on the day – they know who they are – and the NHS staff for their ongoing support and treatment but as my recovery is still ongoing I would request that my privacy is respected now that the criminal action is over.”

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