Breaking: Sheffield Forgemasters fined after worker’s death

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A Sheffield business has been fined £120,000 for a breach of health and safety laws which contributed to the death of a worker who was gassed to death.

Representatives from Sheffield Forgemasters International, on Brightside Lane, Attercliffe, were also told they must pay costs of £125,000 by a judge at Sheffield Crown Court.

Brian Wilkins, aged 48, died almost instantly after a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher system was activated, flooding the room he was working in with gas.

Prosecutor Jason Pitter said Mr Wilkins had been cutting up high voltage cables in a switch room using a petrol powered saw when the fire extinguisher system went off.

The court heard an alarm, which would have warned Mr Wilkins the extinguisher was about to go off, had failed to work.

Mr Pitter said other members of staff who rushed to his aid also suffered from the effects of breathing in carbon dioxide.

Forgemasters admitted breaching health and safety legislation by failing to carry out an adequate risk assessment, failing to write a method statement, failing to provide and enforce training and failing to provide emergency rescue arrangements.

Judge Julian Goose QC said: “Brain Wilkins was carrying out his job at the defendants’ factory in Brightside Lane, Sheffield, when there was an accident in which he was killed.

“The defendant company accepts that it failed to discharge its duty to ensure the health and safety of Mr Wilkins and others.

“His death was not caused by the breach, but it was one of the factors which contributed to his death.”

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters said after the hearing: “Whilst Sheffield Forgemasters has today accepted some health and safety breaches which occurred more than six years ago in 2008, it does not accept and has never accepted that its actions have caused or significantly contributed to the tragic death of Brian Wilkins.

“Furthermore the company places the health and safety of its employees at the highest level and has continunous improvement systems in place to maintain the most stringent British Standard accredited health and safety procedures.”