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Subcontractors prosecuted over death at EMR depot

Two subcontractors have been given eight-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, after the death of a worker at a European Metal Recycling (EMR) depot.

In December, EMR was fined £150,000 for health and safety failings as a result of the incident, in which William Ward from Sheffield was crushed by part of a 33-tonne metal barge.

Warwickshire Crown Court heard that Ward was helping to dismantle two large steel barges using oxyacetylene torches at the Kingsbury depot in Warwickshire on 12 October 2011. He was working alongside brothers Stuart and Dennis Cheesman, also from Sheffield, who were contractors for EMR.

Ward had finished cutting through the outer skin of the barge’s hull and had moved inside the now-unsupported structure to cut some supporting braces when the side collapsed in on him. He died at the scene.

The court heard that the Cheesman brothers failed to ensure the barge was adequately supported to prevent a possible collapse, and did not properly assess or manage the work.

Both men admitted safety failings. As well as suspended prison sentences, they were ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work and each pay costs of £3,000.

After the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Mark Austin said: “Stuart and Dennis Cheesman recruited Ward to work for them as a burner and were responsible for his safety and for ensuring the barges were being dismantled in a safe manner.

“Our investigation found Stuart and Dennis Cheesman neglected their responsibility and Ward paid the ultimate price with his life – a terrible and senseless loss that was completely preventable had the work been better planned and managed.”

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