Steel firm fined over death of grandfather killed by fragment from ‘exploding’ grinding disc

Stuart Stead, of Mexborough
Stuart Stead, of Mexborough

A Sheffield steel firm has been fined over the death of a Doncaster grandad killed when he was hit by a fragment from a grinding disc.

Stuart Stead, 49, from Mexborough, was working at HI Quality Steel Castings, on Forncett Street, Burngreave, when he was struck by a shard of metal in March 2012.

The firm admitted a serious safety breach and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £24,000 costs at Sheffield Crown Court.

A Heath and Safety Executive investigation found the hand-held grinder had no guard so when it exploded, fragments were catapulted across Mr Stead’s work area.

Two of his colleagues said they heard a loud bang and turned to see him collapse to the floor.

They ran to his aid and saw his visor was broken and there was a piece of the disc in his mouth.

The HSE said the disc was bigger than allowed for on an unguarded tool, was fixed using a ‘non-standard attachment’ and had been running at twice the speed it should have been.

The court heard the HSE’s investigation uncovered previous incidents when discs had come off grinders.

They found evidence of several similar incidents involving discs at the firm, based at Trinity Works in Chesterfield.

HSE inspector Jill Thompson said: “This was a horrific incident that has devastated Mr Stead’s wife, his children and wider family.

“It is also, tragically, one that could have been avoided had the company focused on its responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees.

“The safety of Mr Stead and others was not ensured while using hand-held grinders.

“If monitoring and supervision had been provided to ensure necessary precautions were followed, this tragic incident would not have happened.

“The near-misses should have been a big warning flag to HI Quality Steel Castings that there was a serious risk a worker could be severely injured or killed.”