The claimant was an arborist. He was to log or “cut into cheeses” the trunk of a tree with a diameter of about four feet using a large, powerful Stihl 064AV chainsaw. As he was cutting the wood, the saw “kicked back” out of the wood, knocking the claimant’s helmet off, cutting through his visor and striking him in the face and forehead. He suffered a serious facial wound.

We alleged that the defendant had failed to provide the necessary training and supervision under Regulations 9 and 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

He had only received training on a much smaller, 15-inch chainsaw and only on trees that were smaller in diameter than the length of the saw. The claimant had not completed the modules for training CS32 and CS33 for the larger saws.

With smaller saws, the risk of kickback was much less as the nose of the saw protruded beyond the width of the wood being cut, the nose being where the risk of kickback predominantly arose.

In contrast, the saw being used at the time of the accident was the second largest of chainsaws available and yet, due to the size of the trunk, the saw, and its nose, was fully embedded within the trunk.

Our engineer Mr Garner also said the power of the chainsaw being used on this occasion was double the smaller saw and that carried double the risk of kickback.

We showed that the only supervision our client had had with this saw was a week earlier when supervised to fell the tree for 20 minutes only. Felling of the tree is an entirely different operation to logging. He had received no training or supervision for logging and was not supervised on the day of the accident

The defendants argued causation namely that “kickback can happen to anyone”.

The court agreed with the claimant that training on the 15 inch saw was clearly inadequate. The Court rejected entirely the defendant’s argument that no further training was required and that this could be learned on the job with mentoring. This stance was inconsistent with the recommendations of health and safety courses; a breach of the above PUWER 1998 Regulations and there was, in any event, no supervision on the day.

Nottingham County Court, 16 July 2008