Sawmill fined after teen’s leg amputated following concrete crush

The incident happened at BSW Sawmills Ltd’s Dalbeattie site in Dumfries and Galloway on October 6, 2017.

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A sawmill company has been fined £300,000 after an employee was crushed by a 1.8-tonne concrete panel.

The 19-year-old man had to have his left leg amputated above the knee. He also suffered an injury to his left arm, which caused severe muscle damage.

The incident happened at BSW Sawmills Ltd’s Dalbeattie site in Dumfries and Galloway on October 6, 2017.

The concrete panel, which was part of a bay wall, collapsed while the teenager and a colleague were on cleaning duties.

The man was caught and dragged down, with both his legs and his left arm getting trapped underneath.

The Berwickshire-based firm was fined after the company admitted health and safety breaches at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the concrete panel had been in poor condition and held upright by only the loose bark and debris on either side of it.

When the bark and debris were removed from one side during the cleaning operation, it allowed the panel to fall, trapping the worker.

The bay had been modified and sustained damage over a period of time prior to the incident.

There were no records or dates kept of the alterations as the company did not record maintenance activity to the bay.

The company’s reporting system failed to identify the risk caused by the condition of the bay for a number of months prior to the incident, meaning that anyone in close proximity to it was at risk of injury.

The system of audit and checks of site plant and equipment to address any damage or wear and tear did not apply to the bay at the time of the incident.

Had the audits included all areas, the damaged bay could have been identified and the accident prevented.

The investigation also unearthed that a number of employees had expressed concerns about the state of the bay prior to the incident.

Alistair Duncan, head of the Crown Office’s health and safety investigation unit, said: “By failing to identify the risk arising from the condition of the bay, BSW Sawmills Limited put their employees at unacceptable risk.

“This was an incident that resulted in life-changing injuries that could have been avoided if the appropriate measures had been in place at the time.

“Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will remind other employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have devastating consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.”

A spokeswoman for BSW Sawmills Ltd said it expresses its “sincere apologies” to the employee, his family and colleagues.

She said the company “sincerely regret the incident”.

She added: “The nature of our work is carefully managed and controlled through a highly developed health and safety system, which regrettably failed on this occasion.

“We have fully cooperated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout their investigations, and we are grateful for their assistance.

“Lessons have been learned and improvements made to our already proactive approach to safety.

“The welfare of our employees and all others visiting our sites has, and always will remain, our top priority.”