Karl Spafford was 30ft up a tree when the dangerous tool whirred out of control and sliced through his arm.

 

A tree surgeon “extraordinaire” almost hacked his left arm off with a chainsaw in a horrifying work accident

Karl Spafford, now 35, had climbed 30ft up a tree when the tool kicked back and cut into his forearm leaving him with a horrifying gash.

The dad-of-two, from Southport, was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

Now, after a four year legal battle, he has won a six figure settlement from his employer for failing to provide him with adequate training.

Karl’s injuries were described as “life-changing”. He was unable to return to tree surgery, the profession he loved and which allowed him to “travel the world.”

Karl has now been left with permanent pins and needles in his forearm, along with significant scarring and a reduction in grip strength.

Karl Spafford, pictured with his wife Christa, nearly lost his arm in a horrific chainsaw accident
Karl Spafford, pictured with his wife Christa, nearly lost his arm in a horrific chainsaw accident (Image: Southport Visiter)

When the accident happened, the dad was using one hand to hold a branch and the other to use the chainsaw which suddenly whirred out of control.

The dad began a career as a tree surgeon when he was 17, and was left devastated when given the news he would have to hang up his saw.

With Fletchers Solicitors, it was found that Karl’s former employer had not provided him with adequate training.

Refresher training should have been provided to remind employees of the importance of using two hands while operating a chainsaw, it was agreed.

Karl said: “Tree surgery was all that I knew, and I loved it – I lived and breathed my job.

“I was known for being able to go further and higher than other people.

“I knew there were risks associated with the work, but I didn’t think anything would happen to me.

“Had I been trained more, it would have been drilled into me to use two hands when operating dangerous machinery like a chainsaw.

“I really just want to speak out to try and stop this from happening to anyone else.

“I wish I could go straight back into my career as a tree surgeon, but that’s not possible so I’ve had to start rebuilding my life.”

Immediately after the accident, Karl was unable to work because of his injuries, and needed counselling for post traumatic stress disorder and cognitive behavioural therapy to deal with flashbacks and anxiety.

During this period of unemployment, his family-of-four had to move out of their home as they were unable to maintain the monthly rent payments.

Karl’s wife, Christa, had to postpone her degree so she could work.

Once Karl was well enough to start looking for work again, he found that he was unemployable because of the medication he was taking for the pain.

It took Karl six months to come off the painkillers but he knew that in order to work again, he would have to handle the pain and stop the medication.

In November 2016, Karl found work as a children’s support worker which is a role that he is enjoying.

He added: “I have had to come to terms with my injuries and the fact I’ll never be a tree surgeon again.

Jennifer Nolan, the solicitor who helped Karl Spafford get a six-figure payout after a chainsaw accident
Jen Nolan, the solicitor who helped Karl Spafford get a six-figure payout after a chainsaw accident