Editor, UBM

May 6, 2016

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Balfour Beatty fined £2.6m after trench fatality

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited, has been fined £2.6 million after an employee died when a trench he was working in collapsed on him.

James Sim, 32, who was employed as a subcontractor on behalf of the multinational company, was laying ducting for new cable for an offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast by Heysham, Lancashire.

On 14 April 2010, he was working in a trench dug to a depth of 2.4 metres, without any shoring – a support system to help prevent collapses.

Mr Sim was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.

Preston Crown Court heard that an investigation by the HSE found that Balfour Beatty had failed to do an adequate risk assessment of the work being carried out or control the way  in which the excavation took place.

HSE inspector Chris Hatton said: “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.”

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited was fined £2.6 million with £54,000 costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Regulation 31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

This case is one of the first high-profile fatalities to be sentenced under the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety, corporate manslaughter and food safety offences, which came into force at the beginning of February 2016.

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



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roger verallo
roger verallo
6 years ago

Its a good decision and hopefully it will make other companies make proper assessments but who receives the money from the fine? What compensation do the family get?

Nikki Nicholson
Nikki Nicholson
6 years ago

This is so sad, and was wholly preventable. It’s disappointing that a company as large as BB allowed this to happen. The fact that the basic checks and balances weren’t put in place is shocking in this day and age. I hope having been levied with such a colossal fine will serve as a stark reminder to them that Contractors’ lives are as important as anyone elses. It seems that their management of their contractors was seriously lacking too. My condolences to Mr Sim’s family and friends. This reminds me of the Geotechnical case where another young man sadly lost… Read more »

Mrs williams
Mrs williams
6 years ago

Thank you for your comments and condolence we just hope companies take notice so this doesnt happen again as we dont want any other family to go through this .

5 years ago

The money goes into the general coffers for the government to spend as they wish, it’s just another form of tax! The family would have to pursue their own civil case for compensation.