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.”