A timber firm has been fined for safety breaches after a guillotine severed the hand of one of its employees.
Lancaster-based Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident in Carnforth on June 3, 2010.
Lancaster Magistrates’ Court heard the 72-year-old man from Lancaster had been feeding pieces of wood into a diesel-powered guillotine using his right hand to push wood under the blade and his left hand to operate the lever. As he was doing this, he accidentally pulled down the lever before he had removed his right hand from under the blade. It passed through the top of his hand, just below his knuckles, breaking all the bones in its path and severing all the tendons.
The skin on his palm was the only thing left keeping the two parts of his hand together.
Surgeons managed to sew his hand back together during a six-hour operation but he had to have part of his little finger amputated.
The HSE investigation found the level of guarding on the guillotine fell well below the minimum legal standards.
The firm pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs.