Balfour Beatty fined after death following plant refuelling


Fatally injured when struck on the body by a wheeled excavator.

Author: Ernie Taylor
Reading time: 3 minutes

This article is 3 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

One of the UK’s largest construction contractors has been fined after an employee of Balfour Beatty Group Employment Ltd was fatally injured when he was struck on the body by a wheeled excavator.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that between 4 January 2016 and 13 January 2016 Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited, being a Principal Contractor, failed to ensure that the safe system of work for refuelling of all plant and equipment was fully implemented at the construction site of the Third Don Crossing in Aberdeen. As a consequence of that failure; the deceased, who was working at said construction site, was struck by a wheeled excavator which was slewing after being refuelled.

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and has been fined £600,000.

Investigations by HSE Inspectors found that the refuelling of plant and equipment on the site had been identified as being a high-risk activity by the Principal Contractor. As such; they had undertaken a risk assessment and developed a task-specific briefing document; detailing a safe system of work to be followed during the refuelling of plant and vehicles.

However, investigations established that whilst these written procedures existed; the same safe system of work and the specified risk control measures within it had not been fully implemented on the construction site that was under their control.

Speaking after the hearing; Principal Inspector for the HSE, 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.”

NOTE: This case highlights the duty on Principal Contractors; in that they must plan, manage and monitor the construction phase and coordinate matters relating to health and safety to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, construction work is carried out without risks to health or safety. Further, in fulfilling these duties; and in particular when design, technical and organisational aspects are being decided on (in order to plan the various items or stages of work which are to take place simultaneously or in succession); then the Principal Contractor must take into account the general principles of prevention; as established under regulation 4 (and at Schedule 1) to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. In this case; suitable arrangements were in place (a defined safe system of work) but it was not implemented. Arguably; a failure of site managers and supervisors to monitor the work; so as to ensure (refuelling for example) was carried out safely.

Ernie Taylor

Health & Safety Consultant

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.