AN operator could have lost his thumb in a 'serious and unusual accident' involving a grease gun. 

The unnamed individual was in the process of greasing his machine when a blockage occurred that resulted in a build-up of pressure and a burst pipe. This caused grease to penetrate his gloves and enter his thumb through a small 'pin-sized' hole. 

While the operator didn't immediately recognise an issue, he was later told by his manager to go to A&E and have it checked out. He delayed medical attention for more than 24 hours and, as a result, had to have several operations to clean grease from the wound and fend off the threat of amputation. 

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Despite having more than 30 years in the industry, the operator has never experienced or heard of a similar incident. He has since regained feeling and movement in his thumb and returned to work.

A safety alert from Euroforest read: "The operator had carried out a visual inspection of the grease gun ensuring it was fit for purpose.

Forestry Journal: The operator has since regained feeling in his thumbThe operator has since regained feeling in his thumb (Image: Euroforest)

"While operating the grease gun a blockage occurred which resulted in a build-up of pressure which forced the pipe to burst and grease to penetrate the operator’s nitrile gloves before entering his thumb through a small 'pin-sized' hole.

"The operator did not immediately recognise an issue but on reporting the incident to his manager was told to go immediately to A&E and get checked out.

"Unfortunately, the operator failed to attend A&E for a period of over 24 hours and as a result several operations were needed to clean the wound to remove any residual grease." 

Forestry officials are now urging operators to take extra care when using grease guns, and to ensure replacement parts are rated appropriately in terms of pressure rating. 

More information can be read on the FISA website.