William Ward, 56, from Handsworth, Sheffield, sustained catastrophic crush injuries in an incident at European Metal Recycling Ltd’s Kingsbury depot in Warwickshire on 12 October 2011.  Warwickshire Crown Court heard today (4 Feb) that Mr Ward was working for and alongside brothers, Stuart and Dennis Cheesman, also of Sheffield, to cut and dismantle two large steel barges using oxy-acetylene torches.

The two subcontractors have been handed eight-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, after Mr Ward was killed when part of a 33-tonne metal barge he was dismantling collapsed on top of him.  Mr Ward had finished cutting through the outer skin of the barge’s hull and had moved inside the now unsupported structure to cut some supporting braces when the side collapsed in on him. The married father of two died at the scene.

The brothers failed to ensure the barge was adequately supported to prevent a possible collapse, and did not properly assess or manage the work.  Stuart Cheesman, 42, of Mauncer Lane, Woodhouse, Sheffield, and Dennis Cheesman, 47, of Greenwood Avenue, Sheffield, both pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  They were each sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work in the community. They must both also pay costs of £3,000 each.

The sentencing follows the sentencing of European Metal Recycling Ltd on 19 December 2014, who were fined £150,000 after HSE identified serious flaws with the method of work being used to dismantle the barges.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Mark Austin said:

Stuart and Dennis Cheesman recruited Mr Ward to work for them as a burner and were responsible for his safety and for ensuring the barges were being dismantled in a safe manner.  Our investigation found Stuart and Dennis Cheesman neglected their responsibility and Mr Ward has paid the ultimate price with his life – a terrible and senseless loss that was completely preventable had the work been better planned and managed.”