Steel firm fined £450,000 after worker fell into open pit at Sheffield plant

Tata Steel UK appeared at Sheffield Crown Court
Tata Steel UK appeared at Sheffield Crown Court

A steel firm has been fined £450,000 after a worker fell into an open pit at a Sheffield plant, injuring his ribs and kidney.

Steven Ayres was working at Tata Steels Billet Mill in Stocksbridge when he was tasked with emptying a skip at the bottom of a pit.

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With the aid of an overhead crane, he had removed the plates covering the pit, extracted the skip, emptied and and returned it to the pit.

But when replacing the first of the two covering plates, it swung out of position slightly, so he moved to ensure he was out of the way.

As the second plate was being moved, he stepped back and fell between three and four metres into the pit.

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The Health and Safety Executive investigated following the accident on February 26, 2014.

It found that Tata Steel UK had completed a risk assessment 16 months earlier which identified the need to place a barrier round the pit while it was exposed, yet no barrier was provided until after Mr Ayres’ fall.

Tata Steel UK, of 30 Millbank, London, appeared at Sheffield Crown Court last Monday, where it admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work  and was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £32,099 costs.

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After the hearing, HSE inspector Mark Welsh said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided if Tata Steel UK Limited had actually acted on its own findings and provided a simple but effective control measure in the form of guardrails to prevent a fall and by using safe working practices.

“A fall from this height into a pit containing various metal objects could easily have resulted in a fatality. Companies should act swiftly if and when risks are identified and relevant control measures should be put in place when working at height.”

Tata Steel last year sold its plants in Stocksbridge and Rotherham to Liberty House Group.