Firm fined after Sheffield man crushed to death

William Ward from Handsworth

William Ward from Handsworth

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A metal recycling firm has been fined £150,000 for safety failings after a Sheffield dad was killed when part of a barge collapsed on top of him.

Dad-of-two William Ward, of Parsley Hay Road, Handsworth, sustained catastrophic crush injuries in the incident at European Metal Recycling’s depot in Kingsbury, Warwickshire, on October 12, 2011.

The recycling giant was sentenced after the Health and Safety Executive found serious flaws with the method of work used to dismantle the barges.

Warwickshire Crown Court heard Mr Ward – father to 26-year-old James and Joseph, 22 – was working alongside others to cut and dismantle two large steel barges using oxyacetylene torches.

He 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. The 56-year-old died at the scene.

The court heard the company failed to do enough to protect the workers, and ensure burning contractors on site were competent and working safely.

EMR, based in Warrington, Cheshire, was also ordered to pay £88,000 in costs after admitting health and safety breaches.

Speaking after the hearing, Jayne Ward, Mr Ward’s widow, said: “On hearing of Billy’s death, my world was turned upside down.

“The news was so sudden and one of the worst things was not to have been able to say goodbye.

“Other people can go home to talk to their partners and parents. I have no partner now and the boys have no father.

“I think of all the things Billy will never see – the boys getting married, having children, which would have been our grandchildren.

“As a couple, you build up a picture of your life together going forward – seeing the boys settled, grandchildren, retiring and spending time together. All this has been taken from him, me and the boys.

“The fine was more than I thought but, it’s like my son said, no matter how much the fine was it would not bring their dad back. The last three years have been hell.”

Sentencing was adjourned on two Sheffield sub-contractors, brothers Stuart and Dennis Cheesman, who also admitted health and safety breaches in relation to Mr Ward’s death.