Firm fined after fatality at waste recycling site

A scrap metal recycling company based in Sheffield has been fined for safety failings after a worker was killed when he was hit in the head by an exploding gas cylinder.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how Tony Johnson, aged 55, was working at the Walter Heselwood recycling site on 16 June 2009 when a pressurised gas cylinder was put through a shearing machine causing it to explode. A large section of the cylinder hit Mr Johnson in the head causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a number of safety failures by Walter Heselwood Limited. They had no effective health and safety management system in place and failed to adequately assess the risks involved with processing different types of scrap material. The company also failed to put in place a range of measures to reduce the risks, for example by providing a blast wall.

Walter Heselwood Limited of Stevenson Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £120,000 with £40,000 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kirsty Storer commented: “Companies processing different materials should have good, documented systems to ensure materials such as pressurised cylinders are sorted and dealt with correctly. Workers also need to be properly trained and supervised.

“In addition where safeguards are provided they need to be well maintained, and an assessment should be carried out to determine any additional precautions that might be required, such as a pit or blast wall.”

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Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
  3. HSE news releases are available at

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