Company fined £2 million after death of worker at Oldbury scrap metal plant

From left to right: Mark Redfern, Kevin Pugh, Malcom George Credit: West Midlands Police

A company and three of its bosses have been fined more than £2m over the death of a worker who suffered catastrophic head injuries at a scrap metal recycling plant in Oldbury.

Stuart Towns, aged 34, had been working for Alutrade Ltd just three months when the tragedy happened at the Tat Bank Road site on 24 July, 2017.

CCTV footage shows Mr Towns had walked into an area underneath a hopper, which housed powerful engines used to feed a conveyor belt with scrap metal for processing.

A gate preventing workers from getting to the area had broken, and the machine should have been shut down and isolated.

His body was discovered by colleagues, having suffered serious head injuries. The father of one died at the scene.

Stuart Towns, 34, died at the scene Credit: West Midlands Police

Four days earlier, Mr Towns had been told not to work so close to the hopper after being spotted by managing director Malcolm George.

He was spotted on CCTV working dangerously close to the machinery 40 minutes before his death, but George, who was stood nearby, took no action.

An investigation which reviewed a months worth of CCTV footage found hundreds of health and safety breaches.

Last month at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Alutrade Ltd admitted corporate manslaughter.

They were sentenced today.

George, 55, director Kevin Pugh, 46, and health and safety manager Mark Redfern, 61, pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

They admitted the charge on the basis that their failings didn’t cause the death, but together the management of the company amounted to corporate manslaughter.

Today at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Alutrade Ltd was fined £2m and ordered to pay £105,514 costs.

Senior investigating officer Det Insp Hannah Whitehouse said, “Stuart’s death should never have happened, but sadly it was an incident waiting to happen.

“He and other staff at Alutrade Ltd were operating in a culture where dangerous working practices were regularly overlooked.

“The company put profit before health and safety and it cost Stuart his life."

Mr Towns' family said, "After five years we now feel we can start to focus on the happy times we shared as a family with Stuart.

"We hope that lessons can be learned from the way that Stuart died and hope that no other family goes through what we have been through.  

"It's now time for us to focus on the good memories we have of Stuart."