A galvanising firm has been fined #150,000 after one of its employees died after being crushed by a metal girder at a Birmingham factory.

Joseph Ash Limited, which admitted three breaches of Health & Safety regulations, was also ordered to pay #11,772 costs.

Judge Michael Challinor, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, said the accident happened on July 30, 2003, in Charles Henry Street.

He said Akhtar Zaman, aged 49, had been employed to place metal girders into a solution in order to give them a zinc coating.

Before that, he said, Mr Zaman had to manoeuvre a 3.8 tonne girder using a crane.

While manoeuvring the metal it toppled over, crushing Mr Zaman against the crane.

The judge said: "The system within which he was required to work was seriously deficient. There was no plan for safe dealing with heavy items, such as girders, and no method of risk assessment.

"There was a climate in place where Mr Zaman thought he could act alone and carry out lifting operations as he saw fit. This resulted in an accident waiting to happen."

The judge said Joseph Ash was a well established company that has contributed significantly to the economy and that since the accident it had improved the system.

He also accepted there had not been any flagrant breach of regulations to increase profits.