Council fined for lack of tool training

The machine that sliced Adi Soday’s finger off

Adi Soday, a technician at The Forest School in Horsham, had his right index finger sliced off by a circular bench saw on 13th June 2022.

The 29-year-old, who worked in the design and technology (DT) department, had been operating the saw to cut pieces of wood that were set to be used for a DT lesson. He had used the saw many times but had never actually received any formal training on how to use it safely.

While pushing one of the sheets of wood through the saw, Adi Soday, who was 27 at the time, felt a pain in his right index finger and immediately turned off the machine.

As he looked down, he saw his finger lying on the bench.

A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found West Sussex County Council, the local authority in charge of the school, failed to ensure Mr Soday was trained to use the bench circular saw.

West Sussex County Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £16,000, ordered to pay £4,294.60 in costs and a victim surcharge of £190 at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 3rd July 2024.

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HSE inspector Russell Beckett said: “Workers must be trained properly when using high risk woodworking such as bench circular saws. This incident could have been prevented had West Sussex County Council provided Mr Soday with proper training.”

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “We have accepted responsibility for our part in the significant injury Mr Soday sustained and pleaded guilty to the health and safety charge.

“We took immediate action following the incident in June 2022 to reduce the risk of anything similar happening in schools in West Sussex with design and technology workshops.

“This included reaffirming that all schools maintained by the county council with such workshops understand their duties under the regulations, and supply evidence of compliance to West Sussex County Council.

“Schools are required to provide assurance that staff using equipment and machinery have been adequately trained and that proper records are held. The council’s health and safety team conduct visits to monitor compliance and support schools to meet their obligations.”

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