A steelworks in Co Cork has been fined €10,000 after a 21-year-old apprentice died in an explosion, which a judge said described as a fundamental breach of safety.

Donal Scanlon was working for Bryan and Coakley Ltd., trading as B&C Services of Marlhill Court, Foxhole Industrial Estate in Youghal, when the incident occurred on 18 November 2015.

The court was told that Mr Scanlon, who was employed as an apprentice fitter, was cutting an oil drum with a plasma cutter when the lid blew off and struck him in the head.

He was airlifted to Cork University Hospital, where he later died.

Waste oil and fumes inside the drum were ignited by the plasma cutter causing the explosion.

The drum was being prepared to be used to store scrap metal and Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: "There is invariably going to be waste in the drum. This is fairly fundamental. It is a fundamental breach of safety".

The company has two directors, Mark Coakley and Ivan Bryan, and a guilty plea was entered by Mr Coakley on behalf of the company to a charge of failing to provide a safe and well-organised system of work.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said the explosion was "entirely preventable".

He added: "The culpability of the company is high. The level of preparation, the level of management, the level of supervision were all significantly lacking".

However, he said he could not impose a fine so large that it would put the company out of business.

"I accept it is a small company, that is conscientious about the manner in which they met the case, they took advice and correction and are genuinely remorseful".

He fined the company €10,000 and gave it 12 months to pay.

Mr Scanlon’s aunt, Anne Stack, speaking on behalf of the family, said her nephew "radiated happiness and brought good humour and joy wherever he went. He was very hard-working and was the heart and soul of our family".