Alutrade admits corporate manslaughter over 2017 fatality

An Oldbury-based recycling company where a scrap metal worker died after suffering head injuries in 2017 has admitted corporate manslaughter.

In July 2017, Stuart Towns, 35, suffered serious head injuries after being struck from above while working at Alutrade Limited, on Tat Bank Road, Oldbury, and died at the scene (see letsrecycle.com story).

Stuart Towns worked for Alutrade at Oldbury (photo: West Midlands Police)

Alutrade admitted corporate manslaughter at a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 11 February.

Company directors Malcolm George, 55, and Kevin Pugh, 46, and health and safety manager Mark Redfern, 61, admitted to failing to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the company’s employees.

They will be sentenced on 18 March.

Ben Southam of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Special Crime Division 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.”

The CPS Special Crime Division deals with the most complex and sensitive cases in England and Wales, including disasters, serious criminal allegations against police officers, corporate manslaughter, and election offences.

Head injuries

The CPS says the Health and Safety Executive visited Alutrade in 2015 and issued the company with a contravention notice due to the absence of gates on a piece of recycling machinery.

These convictions will not bring back Stuart Towns, but I hope that they will do something to bring some closure to his family

  • Ben Southam of the CPS Special Crime Division

Alutrade then installed gates to prevent employees from going under the machine, the CPS said.

However, by June 2017 the gates were “damaged”, the CPS says, and CCTV showed “numerous” employees including Mr Towns going underneath and climbing inside the machinery.

Senior managers were “on notice” of issues with the gates, either by being able to see the damage themselves or being informed about it, the CPS says.

However, the machinery was neither isolated nor were new gates installed, and staff continued to go under the machinery whilst it was in operation.

Mr Towns climbed underneath on 24 July 2017 and was struck, causing him fatal head injuries.

Oldbury

A spokesperson for Alutrade told letsrecycle.com: “On 11 February, Alutrade pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter. Sentencing will take place on 18 March.

“No further comment can take place until after this date.”

With its main site based in Oldbury, metal recycler Alutrade says it services local and national business and provides total waste management to all types of industries.

The company specialises in the recycling of extrusion and sheet off-cuts from aluminium fabricators and mixed non-ferrous material from merchants, local authorities, and waste management companies.

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