Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fife Council fined after janitor Craig Davies loses toe in chainsaw accident

Fife Council has been fined £20,000 after a school janitor lost a toe while cutting a tree with a chainsaw.

Craig Davies, 40, was seriously hurt while he cut branches of a tree that had blown down in high winds.

The local authority admitted health and safety charges at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

Mr Davies had been sent to Canmore Primary School in Dunfermline on 11 January 2012 after an ash tree was blown down in bad weather.

When he cut a large branch it landed on his foot and trapped it against the trunk.

Mr Davies had three operations but doctors were unable to save one of his toes.

He spent three months off work.

Mr Davies, who worked for the council for more than 20 years, and two other workers from the authority's education department had undergone a basic chainsaw training course in November 2011.

Hazardous operation

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found Fife Council failed to properly assess the risks to employees working with chainsaws.

The probe also found the local authority had failed to maintain a safe system of work and provide sufficient training and supervision for chainsaw work.

Kerry Cringan, an HSE inspector, said: "The failures by Fife Council resulted in Mr Davies suffering a significant and serious injury.

"Chainsaw operations are, by their very nature, hazardous.

"Fife Council, having reached a position where these employees had the most basic of chainsaw qualifications, dispatched them to single-handedly tackle a job that was far in excess of their capabilities.

"As a result they found themselves in a situation outside of their experience, but without recognising it was beyond their abilities.

"Employers must ensure that chainsaw operations are carefully planned and supervised, particularly when employees are not experienced in arboricultural work."

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