Reminder of the dangers of angle grinders as contractor fined £250,000 after user loses arm

A company has been fined £250,000 with £100,000 costs after an employee lost his arm as the result of a disc cutter kicking back. 

Truro Crown Court heard this month (4 March) how on 1 June 2017, self-employed ground worker Morgan Prosser, contracted by MJL Contractors Ltd, was working to complete ground works at a building site near Bodmin, Cornwall.

Mr Prosser was using a petrol disc cutter to cut reinforced concrete beams to size. The saw kicked up and caused a severe laceration to his arm. Mr Prosser underwent months of operations following the incident to try to save his arm, but in the end it had to be amputated. That was in October 2017.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that MJL Contractors were responsible for the groundworks at the site, including providing and maintaining the disc cutter.

Mr Prosser had not been sufficiently trained to use the cutter and the system of work in operation for cutting reinforced concrete beams had not been planned or assessed to ensure the risks were properly controlled.

HSE contended, and the court accepted, that MJL should have been aware Mr Prosser had no previous experience of carrying out this work because his lack of experience should have been identified and addressed at his induction or at the time the work was allocated to him to complete.

MJL Contractors Ltd of Hellys Court, Helston, Cornwall, was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Georgina Symons said: “The contractor’s injuries have been life changing. This serious incident could have easily been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place.”