Fine is one of largest ever imposed on a contractor for a fatality


Balfour Beatty has been fined £2.6m after a worker on a windfarm project was killed after the trench he was working in collapsed.

James Sim, a 32-year-old from Barry in South Wales, was a sub-contractor working for Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions in Lancashire when the trench collapsed on him on 14 April 2010.

The fine is one of the largest ever imposed on a contractor for a fatality, under new sentencing guidelines brought into force in February designed to increase the level of fines for health and safety offences, particularly for larger organisations.

Sim was working in a 2.4m-deep trench that did not have any shoring, laying ducting for a new cable for an offshore windfarm. He was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court yesterday after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

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.”

A Balfour Beatty spokesperson said: “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.”