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Garden landscaper sentenced after worker dies

The labourer, who had been working for Watford-based gardener Mr Fernando Araujo for just two days, was killed in the incident at a house on Harewood, Rickmansworth, on 11 August 2021.

The 31-year-old had been assisting with the installation of railway sleepers along the edge of the front garden driveway.

At the time of the incident, he was using an angle grinder fitted with a toothed circular saw blade to cut the wooden sleepers; the guard had also been removed from the grinder as the circular saw blade fitted was larger than the original grinder disc on the power tool. In addition, the sleeper had been placed in a skip and was not secured whilst being cut.

While attempting to cut the sleeper, the tool kicked back under power into the worker’s groin causing him to sustain a serious, fatal laceration.

An investigation by HSE found that Araujo failed to ensure that work equipment was used only for operations for which, and under conditions for which, it was suitable. Changing from the use of an abrasive wheel through fitting of a circular saw blade meant a dangerous machine was created.

Mr Fernando Araujo, of Croxley View, Watford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(3) of Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Section 33(1)(C) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The 54-year-old was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,467.72 in costs at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on 9 January 2024.

Nearly half of all accidents involving abrasive wheels are due to an unsafe system of work or operator error.

Employers must ensure any abrasive wheels that they supply come with declaration of conformity, ensuring they are safely designed, and appropriately marked. Employers must also conduct a risk assessment to ensure the work environment and work being done will be conducted safely. Any hazards identified must be suitably controlled.

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