Sheffield scrapyard worker’s death - an accident

Anthony Johnson
Anthony Johnson
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THE death of a scrapyard worker killed when part of a gas canister shot out of a machine was caused accidentally, an inquest found.

Anthony Johnson, aged 55, died after he was struck in the face by part of a carbon dioxide cylinder.

The cyclinder was hidden inside an aluminium water tank being crushed at Walter Heselwood, Attercliffe.

Sheffield Coroner’s Court heard the cylinder exploded in the shear-baler machine, sending a chunk of metal flying 100ft across the yard.

A jury of five women and four men took just over two hours to return a unanimous verdict of accidental death.

Coroner Christopher Dorries also said he would write to two authorities - the Health and Safety Executive and British Metal Recycling Association - regarding safety issues surrounding shear-balers.

Mr Johnson, of Toppham Road, Lowedges, was responsible for checking deliveries of metal at the yard for unsuitable items before they were placed in the machine.

The equipment compressed metal into cubes before chopping it into 2ft lengths.

Robin Turner, company director at Walter Heselwood, told the inquest changes had been made at the firm following the tragedy.

He said a wall had been put up and that a new guard had been fitted across the shearing end of the machine.

A guard was not fitted to the shear-baler at the time of the fatal accident.

Mr Dorries said: “Unless somebody was stood inside the wall - which hopefully they would not - it’s a good measure of protection.”

The coroner said the two authorities are obliged to write back to him within 56 days.

“I don’t want to raise false hopes,” he told the court. “Sometimes people take little notice, we can only do our best.”

In their verdict, the jury said: “It was found at the time of the incident that the baling machine did not have a guard at the shearing end where it was designed to have one.

“It cannot be determined whether its fitment would have changed the outcome of the incident, but as a design safety feature of this machine it is there to reduce the risk from any expelled item.”

The jury added the cylinder had lain ‘unnoticed’ in the tank.