Sheffield firm fined after ‘unbelievable’ father crushed to death in front of son

A Sheffield salvage firm has been ordered to pay £75,000 after a father-of-three was crushed to death in front of his son.

Michael Dwyer was killed by a falling hunk of steel at RS Bruce Metals and Machinery's March Street depot, in Attercliffe.

Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer

The 48-year-old, of Gleadless, was working alongside his son Jordan when the tragedy unfolded on March 4, 2013.

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Sheffield Crown Court heard how they had been dismantling an old metal chimney, which was being cut into sections to sell for scrap.

The tower had already been cut into five-foot-tall rings, most of which were further dissected in the cutting shed at the site.

Police tape and floral tributes at the R S Bruce plant in Sheffield where Michael Dwyer was crushed to death (pic: Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian)

Police tape and floral tributes at the R S Bruce plant in Sheffield where Michael Dwyer was crushed to death (pic: Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian)

But the last three rings from the bottom of the chimney were too heavy for the shed's gantry crane, so were sliced up outside.

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Mr Dwyer and his son were cutting up the final ring when two panels sheared off and fell on him, killing him at the scene despite efforts to remove the weight and administer first aid.

The firm, which has a £2.5 million turnover and this year reported a £65,000 profit, had not produced a written risk assessment.

Prosecutors told the court there had been a 'fundamental failure of planning and forethought'.

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But lawyers acting for the firm claimed consideration had been given to workers' safety during 'toolbox talks' with employees by a senior manager, and said it had an 'excellent' safety record over 30 years operating nationally and internationally.

The company admitted failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of its employees.

It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs.

Passing sentence, Judge Graham Reeds said: "The fine is not intended to put a value on the life of Mick Dwyer. Inevitably, were I to do so, no amount of money could possibly counterbalance the sense of loss, bereavement and anger naturally felt by his family members about the way he died and the fact that his death was avoidable.”

He added: “It is agreed the offence was a significant cause of Mr Dwyer’s death. I find it as fact that at least one other worker (Mr Dwyer’s son) was exposed to the same risk of death.”

Mr Dwyer’s son Michael junior said: “We’re happy they’ve admitted they were at fault and the fact they’ve finally been sentenced five-and-a-half years after Dad’s death brings us a measure of closure.

“We’re slightly deflated by the size of the fine, which we think should have been bigger, but it was never going to be possible to put a price on Dad’s life.

“He was an unbelievably loving, family man and it’s unfortunate that he will never get to see the grandchildren which were born after he died.”