Scottish sawmiller Windymains Timber has been fined £20,000 after an employee seriously injured a leg while cutting wood.

Grzegorz Krzaczek, originally from Poland, was using a drop sorter to process logs into planks at the East Lothian company in April, 2008 when the machine jammed.

At the time of the incident, it was common for the machine to jam two to three times a day.

When two planks became stuck, Mr Krzaczek climbed onto the conveyor belt, kicked the wood causing the jam and unblocked it. But, because the power was not switched off the conveyor belt started again at full speed, dragging his leg into the machine.

The machine stopped running second later and Mr Krzaczek remained trapped for one-and-a-half hours while firefighters freed him. His left leg was broken in three places and he suffered significant nerve damage.

A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Windymains had failed to assess the risks involved when employees operated the drop sorter and to have a safer procedure in place for clearing blockages. The investigation showed that dangerous parts of the machine could be accessed by workers due to inadequate guarding.

“This horrific incident caused severe injuries and could very easily have led to the death of Mr Krzaczek,” said HSE inspector David Stephen.

Windymains pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations at Haddington Sheriff Court on December 15 and was fined £20,000, reduced from £30,000 due to an early guilty plea.