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Steel firm fined over death of Mexborough man

Stuart Stead (49) of Mexborough suffered catastrophic injuries while he was working at the Sheffield branch of H.I Quality Steel Castings Ltd in March 2012.
Mr Stead was using a high speed hand-held grinder when the disc exploded and a segment shot through his visor, hitting him in the face. The devoted grandfather received fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
HSE investigations uncovered numerous serious safety breaches at the factory, including a string of near misses with the same or similar grinders. In one of the incidents, which happened only a week before the fatal injury occurred, part of a disc sheared off a grinder that Mr Stead was using and shot down the workshop, hitting another worker in the face.
The abrasive disc in Mr Stead’s grinder was seven inches bigger than permitted in that particular tool. It was unguarded and running at 12,000 rpm, almost twice the rated speed. The disc had also been attached to the grinder with a makeshift tool.
The defendant, who pleaded guilty at a court appearance in February this year, had already agreed to pay five-figure compensation to Mrs Stead in July 2014.
John McQuater, parter and head of litigation at Atherton Godfrey, acting solicitor in the case, said: “The findings of the HSE investigation are the final chapter in this very tragic case, and hopefully, Mrs Stead can gain some comfort from knowing that those who played a hand in her husband’s death have been brought to justice.
The defendant had blatantly ignored previous near-misses. These should have been a stark warning that there was a serious risk of someone being killed.
Health and safety regulations are there for a reason – to protect those who need it the most. We are all entitled to go to work without fear or risk to life and limb.
No amount of compensation can ever replace a loved one, but when that person is financially dependent on the deceased, then there is unnecessary worry added to the overwhelming grief, and this needs to be considered.”
HSE commented: “The excessive speed of the grinder coupled with the added load caused by non-standard attachment had put stresses on the disc, way beyond its capacity, resulting in catastrophic failure.”
Footnote:
H.I Quality Steel Castings Ltd of Foundary Street, Chesterfield, was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,000 after admitting breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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