Two Sheffield brothers have been given suspended prison sentences for health and safety breaches after their friend was crushed to death.
William Ward, aged 56, of Parsley Hay Road, Handsworth, Sheffield, sustained catastrophic crush injuries in the incident at European Metal Recycling Ltd’s depot in Warwickshire on October 12, 2011.
Warwick Crown Court heard Stuart Cheesman, aged 42, of Mauncer Lane, Woodhouse, and his brother Dennis, 47, of Greenwood Avenue, Littledale, recruited Mr Ward as an experienced burner to work alongside another man and cut up a 33-tonne barge.
The pair were instructed to cut it into three parts but after cutting the hull, Mr Ward moved inside to cut some supporting braces when the side collapsed in on him. He died at the scene.
The brothers, who had been working at the site for two years, admitted failing to ensure others including Mr Ward were not exposed to risk.
They were each sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £3,000 in costs.
The court heard there was a ‘complete lack of understanding’ between the brothers and EMR as to who was in charge of the workers.
Dominic Kay, mitigating for Dennis Cheesman, said: “While they were effectively the foremen, they did not understand they were in effective control of the burners on that site.”
He added he did not tell the men to cut inside the barge.
Thomas Storey, mitigating, said Stuart Cheesman had since being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
He added: “He lost not only a friend, but one of his best friends.”
EMR was fined £150,000 at an earlier hearing after the Health and Safety Executive identified ‘serious flaws’ with work method.
HSE inspector Mark Austin said: “Our investigation found Stuart and Dennis Cheesman neglected their responsibility and Mr Ward has paid the ultimate price with his life – a terrible and senseless loss that was completely preventable had the work been better planned and managed.”