A Sheffield steel firm has been fined £160,000 over the death of a worker struck on the head by a five-tonne metal container just days into his new job.
The death of 47-year-old dad-of-two Nigel Hall at ATI Allvac on Carlisle Street, Attercliffe, was described as an ‘accident waiting to happen’ by a judge at Sheffield Crown Court.
ATI was ordered to pay costs of £73,321.15 on top of a £160,000 fine after the company admitted two health and safety offences at a previous hearing.
Mr Hall, from Bramley in Rotherham, suffered a fractured skull after being hit by a crucible – used to hold metal in a furnace for melting – as it was being transported by a crane at head height.
He suffered fatal injuries from the blow in the incident on August 17, 2011.
Judge Michael Murphy QC said a ‘level of complanency’ around safety procedures had led to Mr Hall’s death.
“This was an accident waiting to happen. For all this is a decent company that does its best to make things safer for employees, it did not do so in this case.”
The court was told Mr Hall had been due to get married and had started his new job as a trainee melter only nine days before, after previously working as a lorry driver.
David Brooke, prosecuting, said Mr Hall’s line manager had not been told to expect him or given set instructions about his training.
He said while company policy was that crucibles should be no more than 60cm off the ground while being transported, it was not possible for the crane drivers to do this due to obstructions on the shop floor.
Mr Brooke said the company had failed to make arrangements for ensuring the safe transport and handling of crucibles, despite the items frequently being moved around.
The court also heard the company’s risk assessments dated back to 2002 and had not been updated despite a change in the layout of the site in 2007.
Stephen Walsh QC, defending, said ATI and managing director Nicholas Sparks wished to express their ‘genuine and very deep regret’ to Mr Hall’s family.
He said the firm had fully cooperated with investigations into the tragedy and had made substantial improvements to health and safety practices as a result of what happened.
Judge Murphy said the company would have been fined £250,000 but was given credit for its early guilty pleas and its full co-operation with the investigation into the death.
He said the improved safety measures that are now in place will prevent such an accident ever happening again.