• Robert Spicer

Doncaster foundry death: health and safety prosecution

Foundry death: £150,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v H.I. Quality Steel Castings Ltd (2015) Sheffield Crown Court, May 11

H.I. Quality Steel Castings has been fined following the death of a worker at a steel foundry.

Significant points of the case

• Stuart Stead, an employee of the company, was using a hand-held grinder to work on a casting at the company’s foundry in Doncaster.

• The disc fitted to the machine exploded and sent fragments across his workbay. A shard struck him in the mouth. He suffered fatal injuries.

• The disc was nine inches in diameter despite the fact that the grinder had a maximum tool diameter of two inches unless guarded. It was attached to the grinder by using a non-proprietary tool. The disk was rated for 6650 rpm but was running at 12,000 rpm.

• The grinder had no guard.

• The excessive speed of the grinder, coupled with the added load caused by the non-standard attachment, had put stresses on the disc beyond its capacity.

• The HSE’s investigation had discovered a number of previous incidents when discs had flown off grinders. None of these had been mentioned in monthly minutes of the company’s health and safety meetings.

• Despite some initial training in abrasive wheels, employees did not understand rotation speeds of machines versus discs and had free access to a number of grinders and discs. This contributed to the prevalence of unsafe combinations.

The company was fined £150,000 plus £24,000 costs for a breach of section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees

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