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Balfour Beatty fined £1m after death of road worker Larry Newman, from Maidstone, on A2 near Barham

By Paul Hooper

Engineering giants Balfour Beatty have been fined £1 million this afternoon after the death of a worker repairing a barrier on the A2 near Barham.

Larry Newman, 37, from Maidstone, was killed after he was struck by the arm of a crane being used in the work in October 2012.

Today, Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering, which had a £3 billion turnover in 2014, admitted breaching two health and safety laws.

The lorry crashed on the A2 at Barham, spilling its load of beer

The lorry crashed on the A2 at Barham, spilling its load of beer

The firm was told by Judge Adele Williams: "There was a significant risk to employees and non-employees and it was one which was foreseeable. The company's failure caused the death of Mr Newman."

The court heard how the victim, of Plains Road, Maidstone had married his childhood sweetheart Lisa in 2000 and they had four children.

Judge Williams, who read the family’s victim impact statement, said: "They have been devastated by his death.

The tragedy happened after this French-registered lorry overturned on the A2. Picture Kent_999s on Twitter.

The tragedy happened after this French-registered lorry overturned on the A2. Picture: Kent_999s on Twitter.

"Their loss, grief and anguish is all too apparent. No sentence that I can impose can deal with that – neither is it intended to put a value on his life. It is not possible to do so." 

Prosecutor Claire Harden-Frost told Canterbury Crown Court how a section of the A2 was closed after a French-registered lorry ploughed into the central reservation in October 2012.

Balfour Beatty had the contract to repair the barrier and it was their responsibility to ensure the safety of workers.

Ms Harden-Frost said a three-tonne excavator, which could have done the work, wasn't available – so workers improvised using a 1.5 tonne machine for the work.

"There was a significant risk to employees and non-employees and it was one which was foreseeable" - Judge Adele Williams

But when the workers struggled to remove a concrete post, they were "left to their own devices".

During the operation, the arm of the crane was used to steady the post as Mr Newman and a colleague were putting chains in place.

But the prosecutor said the crane's arm moved, trapping Mr Newman's head and killing him.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed there had been no "method statement" and no safe method of work which had contributed to the tragedy.

The judge said: "Removing broken posts and their footings was not an unusual occurrence in this sort of repair and would have been done on countless other occasions.

"The fact that employees were meant to use their own initiatives demonstrates the inherent dangers."

A vehicle used to tow the three-tonne excavator to the site was deemed not powerful enough and the workers used the smaller vehicle in the meantime.

Canterbury Crown Court

Canterbury Crown Court

The judge added: "The harm caused here was the loss of a life and it was obvious to the company that the failure was easily avoidable and could have been remedied."

Members of Mr Newman’s family sat in the public gallery throughout the hearing.

Afterwards, Balfour Beatty said in a statement: "Balfour Beatty has offered its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Larry Newman who was killed in this tragic incident.

"The safety of the public and our workforce is always our primary concern.

"Balfour Beatty has since taken appropriate corrective action to take the lessons learnt from this tragic incident and share them and improvements across our business."

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