A serious breach of safety at a Sheffield steel castings firm led to the tragic death of one of its employees, a court has heard.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how Stuart Stead, from the Doncaster area, was working for H.I. Quality Steel Castings in its Sheffield foundry on March 7, 2012.
He suffered fatal injuries to his face and head after the hand-held grinder he was using exploded.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and a subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the grinding machine was unsuitable.
Inspectors found that the abrasive disc on the grinder was too large for it and was not guarded. It was also rotating nearly twice as fast as it should have been, the court was told.
They discovered that discs had come off the machine on several occasions before Mr Stead’s death, but these incidents were not mentioned at all in the minutes of the company’s health and safety meetings, the court heard.
Serious safety breach
After admitting a serious breach of health and safety, Chesterfield-based H.I. Quality Steel Castings was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay a further £24,000 in costs.
Mr Stead’s wife, children and other family members have been devastated by what happened, said HSE Inspector Jill Thompson after the conclusion of the case.
She said his death could have been prevented if the company had fulfilled its responsibilities to make sure its employees were safe.
This was not the case when workers were using the grinding machine as they were not monitored or supervised and the proper precautions were not in place, Ms Thompson said.
She added that there had been numerous near-misses with discs coming off the grinder and these should have alerted the company to the possibility of someone being seriously hurt or killed.
She urged all firms that use grinding machines to make sure they are assessed for safety and make sure they are used properly.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: May 17, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown