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£120,000 fine for scrap metal firm over worker's death

A scrap metal company has paid £160,000 in fines and costs following an incident in which an employee was killed by an exploding gas cylinder.

Sheffield Crown Court was told that Tony Johnson, 55, was working at Walter Heselwood Ltd’s recycling site in June 2009 when a pressurised cylinder was put through a shearing machine.

It exploded and a large piece of debris hit Johnson on the head, causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a number of safety failures.

The HSE told the court that Walter Heselwood had no effective health and safety management system in place and failed to adequately assess the risks involved with processing different types of scrap material.

The company had also failed to put in place a range of measures to reduce the risks.

Walter Heselwood Limited of Stevenson Road, Sheffield, admitting breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 with £40,000 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kirsty Storer said: “Companies processing different materials should have good, documented systems to ensure materials such as pressurised cylinders are sorted and dealt with correctly. Workers also need to be properly trained and supervised.

“Where safeguards are provided they need to be well maintained, and an assessment should be carried out to determine any additional precautions that might be required, such as a pit or blast wall.”

A report in the local media of an inquest in June 2012 said a jury returned a verdict of accidental death. The Star said that a director, Robin Turner, told the inquest that changes had been made at the firm following the tragedy.


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