A sawmill company has been fined £300,000 over health and safety failings which led to a teenage worker having his leg amputated above the knee.
The 19-year-old was clearing debris at the sawmill in Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway, when he was crushed by a concrete panel on October 6, 2017.
Berwickshire-based BSW Sawmills Limited pled guilty to health and safety breaches at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Tuesday.
It followed an investigation by the Health and Safety Investigation Unit at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
COPFS said the court heard the worker was struck by a concrete panel that formed part of a bay wall when it collapsed while he and a colleague were cleaning.
The man was dragged down by the 1.8 tonne panel and his legs and arm were trapped underneath.
His left arm was crushed, causing severe muscle damage, and his left leg had to be amputated above the knee.
Investigators said the concrete panel had been in poor condition and was only held upright by loose bark and debris on either side of it.
When this was removed during the cleaning, the panel fell, trapping the man.
Workers had warned about the state of the bay prior to the incident and had taken photographs, COPFS said.
The bay had been modified and sustained damage over a period of time prior to the incident and no records were kept of the changes or maintenance.
It added that 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 and there was no system of audit and checks of site plant and equipment.
Alistair Duncan, head of the 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 co-operated 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.”
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