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Balfour Beatty fined £2.6m over offshore Lancashire windfarm death

Balfour Beatty has been fined £2.6m over the death of a worker on an offshore windfarm in Lancashire after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety Act.

James Sim, from Barry in south Wales, was working for a subcontractor on behalf of Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions when he was killed in April 2010.

Mr Sim died after the 2.4 m trench he was working in collapsed on him. According to the Health and Safety Executive, the trench had been dug without any shoring.

The 32-year-old had been laying ducting for a new cable at the facility near Heysham at the time of the incident.

Following an HSE investigation, Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court on Thursday (5 May).

The court heard the firm failed to adequately risk assess the works or control the way in which the excavation took place.

“The level of this fine should serve as a warning to industry not to ignore health and safety matters,” said HSE inspector Chris Hatton.

“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.”

Another Balfour Beatty subsidiary – Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering – was fined £1m in January after the death of a worker who was killed repairing a damaged central reservation barrier on the A2 in 2012.

Larry Newman was killed when a lorry-mounted crane slipped from its concrete footing and hit him on the head.

In a statement following today’s fine, a Balfour Beatty spokeswoman 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 & 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 tragic incident and share them across our business.”

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