Dad crushed to death in front of son as chimney collapses

A FATHER was crushed to death in front of his son when a piece of an old steel chimney collapsed and trapped him, an inquest in Sheffield heard.

Michael Dwyer. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

Michael Dwyer, who was cutting up the structure at a factory when the accident occured, was ‘not sufficiently instructed’ by bosses as to how the task should have been completed, the hearing was told.

The coroner’s court heard that the 48-year-old was trapped against a shipping container when a piece of the casting, part of an old chimney that the firm was hired to salvage precious metals from, collapsed.

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The dad-of-three was working alongside his son, Jordan, at the time of the fatal accident in March last year.

Jurors at Sheffield Coroner’s Court recorded a narrative verdict, concluding Mr Dwyer died from ‘crush asphyxia in association with rib and pelvis injuries’.

They said the worker had not been ‘sufficiently instructed as to how he should undertake his task’.

The jury added that Mr Dwyer was not told on the day of his death to ‘stop cutting and undertake tidying’ until a plasma cutter - a special device used for slicing metal - arrived at the factory.

The chimney, a large steel cylinder, was being cut into strips using a burner at RS Bruce Metals and Machinery in Sheffield. The task was completed using a crowbar and a forklift truck.

Giving evidence, company chairman Richard Bruce admitted it ‘wasn’t a standard cutting job’.

He said a detailed discussion was carried out with all staff about how the work would be carried out, but a risk assessment was not written down.

Mr Bruce also paid tribute to Mr Dwyer, of Sheffield, saying he ‘admired him immensely’.

Independent health and safety adyisor Alan Hides told the court he watched CCTV footage of the father and son at work.

He said he witnessed examples of them pushing over and crowbarring off the steel, as well as allowing the metal to fall to the ground.

But he added: “It’s not always that a falling piece of steel is dangerous, providing you’re well clear of it.”