A construction firm has been fined £50,000 after one of its workers was crushed to death by a bundle of steel bars weighing nearly 1.5 tonnes.
Kyle Newell, aged 19, was part of a three-man team working for McNicholas Construction Services Ltd on an excavation site in Sutton Coldfield when he was killed in February 2003.
The 120 bars fell on to the teenager from a height of about five metres as they were being lowered into an overflow storm drain chamber being built for Severn Trent Water plc. The construction company admitted at an earlier hearing to breaching Health and Safety legislation by failing to ensure the safety of one of its workers.
Sentencing the company at Birmingham Crown Court yesterday, Judge Estella Hindley said she took into account a number of mitigating factors, including that it was not a deliberate breach and there was no evidence of cost-cutting for profit. The firm was ordered to pay £11,337 costs.
Prosecutor Richard Atkins, for the Health and Safety Executive, told the court Mr Newell, from Bryniau, Denbighshire, north Wales, had worked for the company for just three weeks before his death. The labourer had been standing in the chamber, on a site on Green Lanes, Wylde Green, as the bars were being lowered from an excavator.
The 1,407kg bundle killed him instantly when one end of the load "splayed", forcing off the thin metal wires that held it together.
The excavator driver had seen Mr Newell "sling" a similar load by the wires the previous day and had warned him about it.
Mr Atkins said although another labourer who was effectively in charge of the site had been trained as a " slingsman", Mr Newell had no specific training.
The driver of the digger also had no formal training in the "slinging" procedure, he added. During the investigation, it was established that no permanent foreman was on site. Jonathan Salmon, defending, said the family-run firm was "genuinely saddened" at Mr Newell's death, which had resulted in it losing the £15 million-a-year contract with Severn Trent.