An architect has been told to pay out £180,000 after pleading guilty to safety breaches.

An architect has been fined £120,000 and told to pay costs of £60,000 after a construction worker fell to his death.

Oxford Architects Partnership, of Oxford, was handed the fine after pleading guilty to safety breaches at Bristol Crown Court yesterday. The firm had been working on the Exchange conference centre Bridgwater, Somerset, when 64-year-old Dan Cairns, an employee of subcontractor H&F Air Conditioning, fell to his death in January 2005.

London-based Express Park Construction Company, which was the main contractor on the site, also pleaded guilty to safety breaches. The firm was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay costs of £68,000.

Speaking after the hearing, the Health and Safety Executive’s inspector Sue Adsett, said: “While it is rare for designers to be charged with breaching health and safety legislation, they must be aware they can be held responsible where bad design is an important contributory factor to a work-place fatality.

“Designers must ensure that plant and equipment can be accessed safely, and that safety harnesses are only used as a last resort. HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any company or individual who fails to carry out their health and safety duties, especially when that failure results in a tragedy, as in this case.”