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Written by
on 22 September 2017

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A man from Gloucestershire is recovering in hospital after suffering one of the most painful (and embarrassing) workplace injuries ever. Somehow, the man involved managed to cut off his own penis with a circular saw.

Details of the accident remain sketchy, but the injury could have been fatal. Fortunately, the quick thinking of a colleague not only saved the man’s life, but also his manhood. After eight hours in surgery, the penis was successfully reattached. In time, surgeons expect the man to make a full recovery.

Local police say that there is nothing suspicious about the accident, but the HSE are investigating as a matter of course.

Rare, but not unheard of

Industrial penis accidents are rare – but they do happen. In 2010, a worker in Florida lost his genitalia permanently in a workplace accident involving a peeler machine.

Investigations after the incident revealed two key problems. First, the man, a temporary worker, had not received any formal training before beginning work with the machine. Second, the spinning blade of the peeler – mounted at waist level – had not been fitted a guard to protect the operator.

Lessons for every employer

Spinning blades and human body parts are a terrible combination, with life-changing consequences when they come into contact with each other. Severed genitalia may make the international headlines, but fingers, toes, arms and legs are all at risk when exposed to industrial machinery.

Employers have a duty to protect workers from injury – here are a few tips for protecting their genitalia (and other appendages):

1. Ensure staff are properly trained when using machinery

As the incident of the peeler machine shows, if workers are not properly trained, they are at significant risk of injury. Never, ever let employees near machinery until you are sure that they can use it safely.

2. Ensure equipment is fitted with proper guards

Guards are a vital protection for your equipment, reducing the risk of coming into contact with spinning blades. In most cases the manufacturer will have supplied guards with the equipment – you must ensure they are fitted and maintained before use.

3. Train your first aiders

The quick thinking of a colleague was all that saved our man from permanent emasculation. Knowing how to deal with a severed member kept the man alive, and ensured that his penis was preserved in readiness for reattachment.

Although your first aiders are statistically unlikely to ever have to deal with a severed penis, they should be trained to cope with similar detachments like limbs and fingers. As with any workplace accident, prompt action could save a life.

Get help

In most cases, protecting against severed penises (and other appendages) is best achieved through effective risk assessments. By identifying those activities and tools which present the greatest danger to workers, you are half-way to improving your safety provisions.

To learn more about using workplace risk assessments to reduce the risk of serious workplace injuries, please get in touch.

Chartered health and safety consultant. 20+ years helping busy people in construction and the built environment. David provides how-to articles, advice and guidance to help explain and make compliance easier for clients. A solutionist with a brain you can pick. And you can easily get in touch with David on social media Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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