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Council fined nearly £50,000 after apprentice severs finger on lawnmower

A local council has been fined just under £50,000 after an apprentice in its employment severed his hand on the blade of a lawnmower.

This week, Nottingham Crown Court ruled that Nottingham City Council was in breach of safety regulations after a 22-year-old apprentice working on site at a local school seriously injured his hand trying to unblock the blade of a lawnmower.

The man severed his right index finger and also suffered serious cuts and ligament damage to his other fingers and his hand.

After investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was found that the local authority had removed safety measures put in place by the manufacturers of the lawnmower and had installed its own design, which was not up to safety standards.

Investigators also concluded that as well as not “suitably control” the risk that the physical equipment posed to workers, Nottingham also did not put sufficient training in place to allow employees to operate machinery safely.

The council pleaded guilty to the charges and were asked to pay out £33,000 in fines and also pay costs of £12,000 - bringing the total to £45,000. 

“The council’s failings in this case have led to the worker suffering life-changing injuries,” HSE inspector Sam Russell commented after the trial. “The council had for many years been removing a part of the lawnmower fitted by the manufacturer which prevented operators from gaining access to the blade. This meant that those operating the lawnmower were exposed to risk.

“This was a preventable incident which would have been avoided if suitable control measures, levels of training, supervision and monitoring were applied.”

And the City Council’s commercial and operations corporate director Andy Vaughan said: “The council, of course, very much regrets Mr Cassidy’s accident and injury.

"The factors which exposed him to risk have long since been addressed and remedied and, as the court noted, the council has a good approach to health and safety. Despite the injury, Mr Cassidy has been able to continue to work with us.”

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