Council fined after Horsham school worker loses finger in horrific accident

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Fines and costs of more than £20,000 have been imposed on West Sussex County Council after a Horsham school worker lost a finger in an horrific accident.

Adi Soday, 29, a technician at Horsham’s Forest School, sliced off his right index finger when using a circular bench saw in the school’s design and technology department.

Brighton magistrates heard that Mr Soday had been operating the saw to cut pieces of wood that were set to be used for a technology lesson.

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While pushing one of the sheets of wood through the saw, he 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.

The circular bench saw being operated at Horsham's Forest School by technician Adi SodayThe circular bench saw being operated at Horsham's Forest School by technician Adi Soday
The circular bench saw being operated at Horsham's Forest School by technician Adi Soday

A Health and Safety Executive 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. He had used the saw many times but had not been trained on how to use it safely.

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

Health and Safety Executive 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.”

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

“The incident occurred in June 2022 and we took immediate action 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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