Recycling firm fined for death of Sheffield worker

William Ward from Handsworth
William Ward from Handsworth
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A metal recycling company has been fined £150,000 for safety failings which led to a worker from Sheffield being crushed to death at one of its depots.

Father-of-two, William Ward, 56, from Handsworth, was killed when part of a 33-tonne metal barge he was dismantling collapsed on top of him at a Warwickshire depot of European Metal Recycling Ltd on 12 October 2011.

The global recycling firm was sentenced today after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious flaws with the methods used to dismantle the barges.

Warwickshire Crown Court heard that Mr Ward was working with others to cut and dismantle large steel barges using oxy-acetylene torches. Having moved inside the unsupported hull of one of the barge’s to cut some supporting braces, the side collapsed in on him.

The court found that the Cheshire-based firm had failed to protect its workers and ensure that burning contractors were competent and working safely. It was fined £150,000 and must pay £88,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Afterwards, HSE inspector Mark Austin said the company was responsible for Mr Ward’s safety, adding: “Our investigation found they neglected that 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.”

Mrs Ward’s wife of 25 years, Jayne Ward, said: “On hearing of Billy’s death, my world was turned upside down. In those first days after his death, I was in a state of shock.

“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 that Billy will never see – the boys getting married, having children, children which would have been our grandchildren.”