Sheffield firm fined after worker killed by lump of flying metal

Beeley Wood Works in Middlewood, Sheffield, where Abbey Forged Products is based (pic: Google)
Beeley Wood Works in Middlewood, Sheffield, where Abbey Forged Products is based (pic: Google)
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A Sheffield firm has been fined £500,000 after a worker was killed by a lump of flying metal.

Billy Fairweather was working for Abbey Forged Products. of Beeley wood Lane, in Middlewood,when the tragic accident occurred.

The 35-year-old was part of a four-man crew who were producing metal parts from alloy cylinders weighing around 20kg that day.

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Because the alloy they were working with was particularly resistant, it was decided to use the heaviest pressurised hammer available.

As the first man in the crew, Mr Fairweather was tasked with moving the alloy on the anvil using tongs between hammer strikes until it was forged into the desired shape.

The small size of the piece being forged and the bulk of the hammer meant he had to be positioned low down on one knee and close to the hammer.

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The hammer was brought down when the alloy was not properly positioned, striking it with a glancing blow rather than a direct impact, causing it to fly off the anvil at great speed and strike him in the chest.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the forging firm had failed to allocate the job to the correct hammer and crew that day, July 17, 2015, and failed to properly assess the risks involved with hammering small components on large hammers.

It also found the company failed to provide a safe system of work that considered communication and which allowed line of sight of the work piece.

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Abbey Forged Products appeared at Sheffield Crown Court on Monday, when it was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £23,756.47 in costs after it admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Carol Downes said: "This tragic incident could easily have been prevented if the employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, put a safe system of work in place, and ensure that the job was allocated to the appropriate equipment.

"Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards."

Abbey Forged Products managing director Jackie Neal said: "This company has always held the protection and safety of our employees as sacrosanct, and we have done all we thought possible to avoid any accident.

"The tragic loss of Billy during the course of his work routine, and the damage to his family has been unbearable, for all concerned here.

"He had achieved great things during the course of his employment, something Billy, his family and ourselves could be justifiably proud of.

"We would have done anything and everything to change the outcome of that day, and the trauma and pain will not be forgotten.

"This is a family business in every respect, and Billy was a member of our family. It is unfortunate and disappointing that Billy’s family will not receive support from the fine."