Chilling footage shows dad minutes before he was crushed to death at scrap metal plant


Chilling footage showing a dad working at a scrap mental plant just minutes before he was crushed to death has been released.

Stuart Towns, a forklift truck driver, was hired by Alutrade Ltd in Oldbury, West Midlands just three months before losing his life in the tragic accident on July 24, 2017.

The 34-year-old was handling large pieces of mental jamming a conveyor belt when they smashed on top of him.

He sustained horrific head injuries and died at the scene, the Mirror reports.

Following the tragedy, bosses of the scrap metal company were found guilty of hundreds of health and safety breaches and fined more than £2million.

An investigation discovered that a safety gate on the machine that caused Mr Towns’ death, which prevented workers from going into the area unless the mechanism was turned off, had been broken.

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

Moments later, his body was discovered by distressed colleagues before succumbing to his catastrophic head injuries.



Stuart Towns (5) walking over to the hopper just a few minutes before his death.

Alutrade Ltd admitted corporate manslaughter at Wolverhampton Crown Court last month and today, the company and three of its bosses were fined more than £2million.

Managing director Malcolm George, 55, and fellow director Kevin Pugh, 46, along with health and safety manager Mark Redfern, 61, admitted breaching health and safety laws.



Stuart Towns was hired by Alutrade Ltd just three months before the tragedy happened.
Stuart Towns was hired by Alutrade Ltd just three months before the tragedy happened.

George, of Bromsgrove, Worcs., was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £7,109 costs.

Pugh, of Sutton Coldfield, West Mids., was fined £5,318 and ordered to pay £3,854.

Redfern, of Rowley Regis, West Mids, was fined £2,635.



Stewart Towns lifted into place by the MD to clear metal just one week before his death.
Stewart Towns lifted into place by the MD to clear metal just one week before his death.

CCTV also showed appalling health and safety breaches just days before the tragedy and four days earlier, Mr Towns had been told not to work so close to the hopper by Mr George.

Just 40 minutes before the tragedy, he was spotted on CCTV working dangerously close to the machinery but Mr George said nothing.



Staff jumping in the hopper and risking their lives.
Staff jumping in the hopper and risking their lives.

A major investigation by West Midlands Police and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) revealed hundreds of safety breaches.

They included workers jumping up and down on metal in a hopper to clear blockages, a forklift truck driven by Mr George being used to lift Mr Towns 18ft into the air to clear a blockage, with no safety rigging.

In addition, staff were also caught on camera walking on a conveyor belt to clear blockages.

Detective Inspector 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.



Managing director Malcolm George was financed £15,000.
Managing director Malcolm George was financed £15,000.

“You do not need a detailed understanding of health and safety legislation to know from watching the footage that workers were frequently allowed to risk their lives.

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



Kevin Pugh was also found over health and safety breaches.
Kevin Pugh was also found over health and safety breaches.

“I hope today’s convictions and hefty ends act as a deterrent to anyone else involved in the industry who hasn’t got their workers’ safety as the top priority.”

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.



Health and safety manager Mark Redfern admitted breaking health and safety laws.
Health and safety manager Mark Redfern admitted breaking health and safety laws.

“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.”

HSE inspector Jan Willets said: “Serious injuries to workers in waste and recycling are too common; and robust health and safety management by employers would reduce the risk.

“If the gates preventing access to the conveyor had been repaired, workers would not have been put at risk and Stuart Towns’ fatal injuries could have been prevented.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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