Stand up for British Steel

Stand up for British Steel

29th October 2015

Here at Safety Fabrications we know the value of steel and the British steel industry in particular.  After all, we’re based in Sheffield, a city with an international reputation for steel production.  The city has been the base for so many innovations in steel production, including the invention of the crucible and stainless steel.  Forgemasters is now the only remaining independent steel works in the world and has a  global reputation for producing the largest and most complex steel castings and forgings and has the means of pouring the largest single ingot of steel (750 tonnes) in Europe. 

Our products are fabricated from mild steel, stainless steel and aluminium and all of our products are manufactured in accordance with BS EN ISO 3834-2:2005 and BS EN 1090-2:2008 and carry the CE Marking which proves compliance with European and UK standards.  Steel is vital to our business here at Safety Fabrications so it’s disturbing and worrying for us that the British steel industry is in crisis right now. 

Despite weathering the global recession of 2008 – 2009, the steel industry here in the UK is struggling with several steel companies announcing job losses over the past few weeks and it looks as if there are more job losses on the horizon.  The steel industry has faced a combination of problems – competition from China, high electricity prices, the strength of the pound and the extra costs incurred via climate change policies.  There’s also the fact that global demand for steel has not returned to the pre-financial crash levels. 

While the strengthening of sterling has resulted in UK steel being considered expensive in international markets, global steel prices have halved in the past year due to the cheaper steel being produced by China.  This has led to the UK importing more Chinese steel – 687,000 tonnes in 2014, compared with just 303,000 tonnes in 2013. 

Steel production is an energy intensive process and the increased cost of energy here in the UK makes it difficult for steel producers to keep prices competitive while government policies designed to compensate the steel companies for the extra costs brought about by climate change policies have been slow in coming.  The European Union restricts the amount of support governments are allowed to give to specific industries which has not helped the situation.  Of the 20,000 people employed in the UK steel industry, more than one in six of those are now facing losing their jobs or the risk of losing them.

China has enjoyed dramatic economic growth since liberalisation began in 1979 and it is now the world’s largest producer of steel, accounting for 270 million tonnes annually.  The UK produces a mere 12 million tonnes of steel annually, which makes it a minor player on the international steel market.  However, the UK steel industry has attempted to counteract this by specialising in high quality, high value steel products. 

Leading figures in the UK steel industry have been called upon by the government to give evidence about the crisis faced by the sector and there are even online petitions being shared on Facebook urging users to sign and share in order to save the steel industry here in the UK.  Here at Safety Fabrications, we’ll keep our fingers on the pulse and bring you news of any developments on this story in order to keep you informed and up to date.