James Sim, a 32-year-old from Barry in South Wales, was working under subcontract for Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd. On the 14th April 2010, he was working in a trench, laying ducting for new cable for the offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast of Heysham.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the trench was dug to a depth of 2.4 metres without any shoring. Mr Sim was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.
It has taken six years for the case to reach its legal conclusion but yesterday (6th May 2016) Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd pleaded guilty to safety offences 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 Limited, of Park Square Newton, Chambers Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield was found guilty of 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 and was fined £2.6m with £54,000 costs.
Balfour Beatty has a stated commitment to Zero Harm on its sites. However, this is the company's second seven-figure fine this year following fatalties on its sites. Earlier this year Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering was fined £1m after a road worker was killed on the A2 in Kent while repairing traffic barriers. [See previous report here.]