Employee killed in trench collapse

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A company has been fined £2.6 million after an employee was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed in on him.

On the 14 April 2010, Mr Sim, a sub-contractor working on behalf of Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited, was laying ducting for new cable for an offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast by Heysham, Lancashire. 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.

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

Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited, of Park Square Newton, Chambers Road, Chapeltown, Sheffield pleaded guilty to breaches of: 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. The Company was fined £2.6million with £54,000 costs.

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