Oldbury recycling firm admits causing death of father killed while on shift

A Black Country recycling firm has admitted causing the death of a scrap metal worker who was killed while on shift.

Stuart Towns was aged 35 when he died
Stuart Towns was aged 35 when he died

Stuart Towns, 35, died after being struck from above while working at the Alutrade Ltd site in Tat Bank Lane, Oldbury, in July 2017.

The company has now admitted corporate manslaughter.

Meanwhile company directors Malcolm George and Kevin Pugh and health and safety manager Mark Redfern admitted health and safety failures at a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Mr Towns, a father of one, died after going under a machine while it was in operation despite the company having been warned two years earlier about the dangers of the machine.

Alutrade Limited, the aluminium recycling company in Oldbury where worker Stuart Towns died in 2017

In 2015 the specialist aluminium can recycler was visited by the Health and Safety Executive who issued a Contravention Notice due to the lack of gates on the machinery.

The company did then install gates to stop staff from going under the machine but by June 2016 these were again damaged.

CCTV showed numerous employees, including Mr Towns, going underneath and climbing in or on the machinery.

Senior managers were on notice of issues with the gates, either by being able to see the damaged gates or being informed that they were damaged.

However the machinery was not isolated and new gates were not installed, meaning workers continued to go under the machine while it was in use.

It was when doing so that Mr Towns was hit and killed on July 24.

Alutrade pictured in a company video. Photo: YouTube

The incident was the first of two workplace deaths in Oldbury in a matter of weeks, with a man dying in an explosion at Innovative Environmental Solutions recycling factory on Union Road on August 7.

Mr Towns was described by his family as "loving, caring, generous, full of life" and someone who was always smiling.

"He was always willing to help anyone that needed it and would never expect anything in return. His huge presence is greatly missed by us all," they added.

George, the 55-year-old managing director, of Stock Green, Worcestershire; Pugh, 46, the production director of Sutton Coldfield and Redfern, 61, of Rowley Regis, all admitted failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the company’s employees.

They will be sentenced on March 18.

Ben Southam, of the CPS Special Crime Division who charged the case, said: “The company had a legal duty to provide a safe system of work to protect their employees from this avoidable serious accident. The CPS case was that their failure to do so caused Stuart’s death.

“These convictions will not bring back Stuart Towns but I hope that they will do something to bring some closure to his family who have waited for this day for so long."

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