Balfour Beatty hit with £600k fine over Third Don Crossing death
Balfour Beatty hit with £600k fine over Third Don Crossing death as separate incident sees another employee suffer serious injury
Industry giant Balfour Beatty has been slapped with a £600,000 fine for health and failing failings that resulted in the death of an employee who was struck by a wheeled excavator on Aberdeen’s the Third Don Crossing project.
On 13th January 2016, 58-year-old Ian Walker, a Balfour Beatty employee from Dundee, was killed by a 14-tonne wheeled excavator slewing round after being refuelled.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that between 4th and 13th January 2016 Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd, being a principal contractor, failed to ensure that the planned safe system of work for refuelling plant was properly implemented at the construction site of the Third Don Crossing.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that refuelling of plant and equipment was identified as a high risk activity by the principal contractor; it had created a task briefing document detailing a safe system of work and had risk assessed the activity. However, although these procedures existed in documents, it was evident that they were not fully implemented on site.
Depute Fiscal Shona Nicholson said the investigation highlighted a string of breaches, including a lack of lighting which would have made it “difficult, if not impossible” for the excavator operator to have seen Mr Walker.
She added that the gap between the fuel tank and the machine was “sufficiently small” to cause serious or fatal crushing injuries when rotating, and that the operator did not have a clear line of sight to some areas around the tank – including where Mr Walker had been standing.
And in contradiction to company policy, there were no barriers or signs surrounding the tank – a breach missed by senior staff members during two site walk-throughs that day.
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited of Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. It was fined £600,000.
HSE principal inspector Niall Miller said after the hearing: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the civil engineering company to implement safe systems of work, and to ensure that health and safety documentation was communicated and control measures followed.”
News of the court’s ruling came on the same day as another incident at a at Balfour Beatty site sparked a wide-ranging investigation after a construction crewman was crushed under a falling portable building during work on the A9 dualling scheme.
The 45-year-old suffered serious injuries in the accident at Balfour Beatty’s site near Bankfoot.
Transport Scotland, which is leading the £3 billion A9 project, said an independent inquiry was under way.
It happened in the first phase of work on the Luncarty to Pass of Birnam section of the road.