Balfour Beatty was working to lay cabling from Heysham Power Station to an offshore wind far Photography: Jim Linwood

Balfour Beatty fined £2.6m for trench death

The utility arm of Balfour Beatty has been fined £2.6m after an employee was killed while laying cabling as part of the construction of Heysham Power Station in Lancashire.

James Sim, from Barry, South Wales, was a sub-contractor working on behalf of Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions. On the 14 April 2010, Sim was working in a trench, putting down ducting for new cable for an offshore windfarm which was being built off the coast by Heysham. The trench was dug to a depth of 2.4 metres, without any shoring. Sim was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court on 5 May after an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive.

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 were found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & 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 & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £2.6m with £54,000 costs.

A statement from Balfour Beatty said: “At a sentencing hearing held on Thursday 5 May, 2016 at the Preston Crown Court, Balfour Beatty was sentenced in connection with its conviction and guilty plea to breaches of Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and related health and safety regulations. The HSE prosecution which has now concluded was in relation to a fatality on the Heysham Power Station project in Lancashire on 14 April, 2010. Balfour Beatty received a fine of £2.6m and was ordered to pay costs of circa £54,000.

“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 incident and share them across our business.”

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