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A utility solutions company has been fined £2.6 million after one of their employees was killed when a trench he was working in collapsed and crushed him to death.

James Sim, a 32-year-old sub-contractor working on behalf of Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions ltd, was working in a trench laying ducting for cable for an off-shore wind-farm which was being built off the coast of Heysham in Lancashire. The trench was up to 2.4 metres deep but the sides had not been shored up at all. He was killed when the sides collapsed, crushing him to death with tonnes of soil. The court heard that the company had not adequately assessed the risks of working in such a trench, and had failed to 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 Ltd pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work 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, and was fined £2.6 million alongside being ordered to pay £54,000 in costs.

Accidents and deaths on construction sites are still far too common – even with all of the health and safety information and advice available. Employers have a duty to protect the welfare of their workers and suitable risk assessment, management and planning can go along way to avoid these accidents.

If you or someone you know has been injured or killed on a construction site, you could well be entitled to compensation. Our solicitors have been dealing with these types of cases for many years and have a great deal of experience in these matters. They will swiftly be able to talk you through the claims process and identify if you have a case, and if so how much compensation you could be entitled to. Contact us today and see how we can help you get the justice you deserve.