A hot metal forging company has today been sentenced for safety breaches following the death of a worker.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how, on 17 July 2015, a four-man crew were engaged in producing metal parts from alloy cylinders weighing around 20kg. The alloy was particularly resilient and it was decided that the 50cwt pressurised hammer would be used in the process. This was the heaviest hammer available to the crew.
Billy Fairweather, 35, was acting as the first man in the crew and it was his job to move the alloy on the anvil using tongs between hammer strikes until it was forged into the desired shape. Due to the small size of the workpiece and the large size of the hammer, it was necessary for him to be positioned low down on one knee and close to the hammer.
The incident occurred when the hammer was brought down when the alloy was not properly seated on the anvil, striking it with a glancing blow rather than a direct impact. This caused the alloy piece to be ejected from the anvil at great speed. It struck Mr Fairweather in the chest causing massive injuries, from which he sadly died.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to allocate the job to the correct hammer and crew, and failed to properly assess the risks involved with hammering small components on large hammers. The investigation 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.
Abbey Forged Products Ltd, of Beeley wood Lane, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £500,000 with £23,756.47 cost.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Carol Downes commented: “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 to 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.”