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Hartley Wintney man Chris Kunesch pleads guilty to two breaches of health and safety regulations
THE owner of a tree surgery firm in Hartley Wintney has been fined after an 18-year-old trainee severed his thumb on a log splitter.
Chris Kunesch, director of Cedardale, appeared at Andover Magistrates’ Court today after pleading guilty to two counts of breaching health and safety regulations. He was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,000.
Rory Stamper, 18, from Church Crookham, lost the tip of his right thumb from the base of his nail in the incident on September 14 last year.
The court heard he had been using a vertical log splitter at the firm’s address in Totters Lane when he was distracted and inadvertently stepped on a foot pedal that lowered a splitting blade.
The machine required operators to hold logs in place with their hands, so as the blade lowered it caught and sliced through his thumb. The court heard that Mr Stamper, a trainee tree surgeon, had to take four weeks off week and still suffers pain and difficulty in performing tasks like fastening buttons and writing.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the splitter failed to comply with the latest safety standards which would have seen the logs held in place without human intervention and the controls better configured. It also found there was no written risk assessment for the machine.
Mr Kunesch was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Michael Baxter said: “This prosecution highlights two key issues. The first is the importance of carrying out suitable and sufficient risk assessments where there is a risk from moving parts, and ensuring that all employees are aware of the dangers.
“The second is to ensure that as equipment gets older it is properly maintained and complies with the latest safety standards, or is replaced.
“Chris Kunesch failed in both these regards in his capacity as a business owner, and Rory suffered a painful and completely avoidable injury as a result.”