Preston Crown Court heard that on May 21st, 2018, while working at Nelson's Graham Engineering's site in Whitehalls Industrial Estate, Colin Willoughby was lying on his back underneath the raised middle section of a Hugh Smith 1000 tonne capacity press.
He was using a hand-held electric grinder to remove a weld from the base of a large metal piston. When the weld was removed the internal ram fell through to the ground, crushing Mr Willoughby and resulting in instant death.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the company, which specialises in the manufacture of containers and drums for the nuclear, aerospace and medical industries, failed to carry out a risk assessment and ensure a safe system of work on the press.
The 20-tonne middle section of the press was raised using fork lift trucks which exceeded their safe working load, in order to access the underside of the press.
Graham Engineering Ltd was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £500,000 and ordered to pays £145,487 costs.
The firm's manufacturing director was acquitted of an associated charge under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Principal inspector Steven Boyd said: “An unsafe system of work was adopted by Graham Engineering whilst undertaking hazardous work and the ensuing sequence of events led to the untimely death of Mr Willoughby.
"This tragic incident could have been avoided if the task had been adequately risk assessed and supervised to ensure safe procedures were followed."