A DUDLEY steel company has been ordered to pay more than £146,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death by a 15-tonne crane.

Wilfred Williams, aged 57, was carrying out maintenance on an overhead travelling crane at C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd in Pedmore Road, when the incident occurred on 27 May 2011.

Mr Williams, from Tividale, was working six-and-a-half metres from the ground and stepped from the gantry he was working on to the rail of an adjacent crane and sat down. At this point the neighbouring crane was moved by an operator who had not seen Mr Williams and he was crushed against an upright stanchion.

An investigation launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr Williams and a fellow maintenance worker had accessed the cranes via a cherry picker. The second worker remained in the basket while Mr Williams stepped onto the rail of the crane he was fixing.

He wasn’t wearing a harness, there was no other fall protection, and there was no safe system of work at height to prevent crush injuries or falls
C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd, was fined £120,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at Wolverhampton Crown Court. The company was also ordered to pay £26,552 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Angela Gallagher said: “This tragic incident, which has had a devastating effect on Mr Williams’s family, was entirely preventable.

“Documents show the company had been aware of the risks for some time. A system to prevent falls from height - a line system whereby workers wearing a harness could clip onto the line - was being considered and an order was about to be placed at the time of the incident. However, the company had not put interim measures in place to prevent falls nor adequately assessed the risk of maintenance staff being crushed by moving cranes.”