Penalty issued over fatal excavation incident


A major contractor has been fined £2.6m after a worker was killed due to excavation failings…

The death of an employee on site has led to a major contractor receiving a significant fine. Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited received a huge penalty of £2.6m after a trench collapse killed a workman.

The incident occurred in April 2010. Thirty-two year old James Sim from South Wales was working in a trench laying ducting for new cable. Some 2.4m of trench had been excavated without shoring when the collapse occurred. Mr Sim was trapped in the excavation.

The case, which was brought before Preston Crown Court on 5 May, revealed risk assessments for the work had not been adequately conducted.

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited was found guilty and received a fine of £2.6m, with associated costs of £54,000. The firm was found to have breached the 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).

Under new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences, the firm was charged increased penalties due to the size of the organisation.

Speaking after the hearing Health and Safety Executive inspector Chris Hatton said: “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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