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HUGE PENALTY OVER FATAL EXCAVATION FAILINGS

Major contractor fined £2.5 million after workman dies in trench

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited has been fined £2.6 million after an employee died when the trench he was working in collapsed in April 2010 during work on an offshore wind farm project being constructed in Lancashire.

James Sim, aged 32, from South Wales was working in a trench laying ducting for new cable. The trench was excavated to 2.4 m without any shoring when a collapse occurred and Mr Sim died trapped in the excavation.

Fine should serve as warning to construction industry

Preston Crown Court heard (5 May) that the defendant failed to adequately risk assess the works or control the way in which the excavation took place.

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited, of Park Square Newton, Chambers Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield were found guilty and fined £2.6million with £54,000 costs for breaching:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – Section 3(1);
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 – Regulation 31(1); and
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 – Regulation 3(1)(a).

This penalty has been imposed under the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences which came into operation for cases sentenced after February 2016. The changes were expected to increase penalties imposed on larger organisations.

HSE inspector Chris Hatton said after the hearing:

“The level of this fine should serve as a warning to industry not to ignore health and safety matters.

Balfour Beatty failed to adequately assess, plan and supervise the work being undertaken. Trench collapses are easy to prevent, and it is disappointing that James’ life was lost in such a tragic way.

The family has shown great patience and support throughout this investigation which is a credit to both them and James’ memory.”

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