Balfour Beatty fined £2.6m for fatal crush

6 May 2016

Balfour Beatty has been fined £2.6m after an employee was killed following a trench collapse on site.

The fine, one of the largest handed out in the construction sector, was given after James Sim, a 32-year-old from Barry in south Wales, was killed working under subcontract for Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions on 14 April 2010.

Sim was laying ducting for new cable for the offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast of Heysham and was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.

An investigation by the HSE found that the trench was dug to a depth of 2.4 metres without any shoring. Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court. The court heard that Balfour Beatty failed to adequately risk assess the works or control the way in which the excavation took place.

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.”

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions was fined £2.6m with £54,000 costs. Balfour Beatty said: “Balfour Beatty has offered its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of James Sim who was killed in this tragic incident.

“The safety of the public and our workforce is always our primary concern. We have since taken appropriate corrective action to take the lessons learnt from this tragic incident and share them across our business.”

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