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95,000 fine for workplace fatality - 02-02-2005
Three defendants have received fines totalling 95,000, plus costs of 60,000, at Southwark Crown Court, London.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Lindsay Barr, David O'Keefe & Co. Ltd and Britin Construction Ltd, following an investigation into the death of Romanian worker Mr Ionit Simionica during refurbishment work at St Mary's Church, Bryanston Square, London, W1.

On 26 February 2001 Mr Simionica, aged 22, was working in an excavation beneath a section of wall at St Mary's Church. The refurbishment work included lowering the crypt floor, which required the foundations to be reformed below their existing level using underpinning. This involved excavating beneath the existing foundations in short sections and casting concrete "pins" underneath the wall. It was whilst working in such an excavation that a 1.5 tonne section fell onto Mr Simionica from the underside of an unsupported wall.

Following sentencing HSE Inspector Barry Mullen, who investigated the case, said:

"Whilst welcoming the verdict handed down by the court today, the fact remains that a young man died in an incident that could have easily been avoided, had appropriate and straight forward safety measures been in place.

"The untimely death of Mr Simionica came about through the failure to take appropriate action in relation to a potential risk in the underpinning work, that had been brought to the attention of both the structural engineer and the contractors. The possible risks should have been addressed by uncomplicated measures including a detailed structural investigation, suitable and sufficient risk assessments and adequate protective measures, such as propping of the foundations."

The structural consultant engineer Lindsay Barr of Lindsay Barr Associates, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, was found guilty of breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act) in that he failed to ensure that persons not in his employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety. He was fined 45,000 and ordered to pay costs of 30,000 to HSE.

The principal contractor David O'Keefe & Co Ltd of Prince George's Road, London, SW19 were fined 25,000 and ordered to pay costs of 15,000 to HSE having been found guilty of charges of breaching:

  • Section 3(1) of the HSW Act;

  • Section 16(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994; and

  • Regulation 9(1) of the Construction (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.


Britin Construction Ltd of Aylesford, Kent, were fined 25,000 and ordered to pay costs of 15,000 to HSE having been found guilty of the charges of breaching:

  • Section 2(1) of HSW Act;

  • Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999; and

  • Regulation 9(1) of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.


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