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Balfour Beatty fined £600k for Third Don Crossing excavator death

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Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited, part of the Balfour Beatty Group, has been fined £600,000 after a worker was fatally struck by a 14 tonne wheeled excavator.


The incident happened on 13 January 2016 when long-standing employee of Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited, Mr Ian Walker had been working as a supervisor on the construction of the bridge across the River Don in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard yesterday, 25 February, how failure to implement safe systems of work had led to the death of the worker, who was employed by Balfour Beatty Group Employment Limited.

Third don crossing where Ian Walker died. Photograph: Bill Harrison / geograph

According to a safety alert issued by Balfour Beatty to staff shortly after the incident, a 14 tonne wheeled excavator had been refuelling from a static, bunded “Fuel Cube” tank.

The operator, having completed refuelling, swung the cab 180 degrees to drive back to his workplace. Mr Walker was trapped between the counterweight at the back of the machine and the fuel tank and suffered fatal injuries.

It was heard how Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited, the principal contractor, had failed to ensure that the safe system of work for refuelling of all plant and equipment was fully implemented between the dates of 4 January 2016 and 13 January 2016.

An investigation by HSE found that the company had identified refuelling of plant and equipment as a high-risk activity and included this in a task briefing document detailing a safe system of work and risk assessment.

However, the written procedures and control measures had not been fully implemented at the construction site.

Speaking after the hearing, investigating HSE principal inspector, Niall Miller said: “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.”

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited of Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London was fined £600,000 for breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

The Third Don Crossing, costing £18 million is officially named the Diamond Bridge, and opened on 9 June 2016.

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