Tarmac fined £1.275m after quarry death

Grant Prior 8 months ago
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Tarmac Aggregates Limited has been fined £1,275,000 after a 26-year-old man was crushed to death during maintenance work at Mountsorrel Quarry in Leicestershire.

Luke and his girlfriend Sarah
Luke and his girlfriend Sarah

Luke Branston, from Leicester, died in the early hours of 21 June 2017 after becoming trapped between a conveyor and a feed hopper.

The contractor, working on behalf of Branston Site Services Limited, was part of a nightshift maintenance team repairing a feed hopper at the Loughborough quarry, operated by Tarmac Aggregates Limited.

He had been stood on a conveyor under the feed hopper which had not been effectively isolated – through cutting the power – before the repair work started.

The conveyor was then inadvertently switched on, trapping Branston against the feed hopper, fatally crushing the 26-year-old.

An HSE investigation found Tarmac Aggregates Limited had failed to ensure the feed hopper was properly isolated before the repair work commenced. The test button on the conveyor electrical panel was not connected to the test circuit and was therefore inoperative.

This issue appears to have existed for many years before the incident, meaning Tarmac Aggregates Limited failed to ensure critical defects were recorded and rectified in a timely manner. The company should have also provided a visual and audible pre-start alarm for the conveyor.

The feed hopper and conveyor at Mountsorrel Quarry

Michael Branston, Luke’s brother, said: “Luke wasn’t just my brother, he was my best friend, there with me every step of the way, so the loss was massive for me.”

Sharon Branston, Luke’s mum, said: “I feel this has made us an emotional family, having guilty feelings for being happy. We are still here and he is not. Six years on, I still have hard days and cry over silly things. I still have Luke’s ashes at home as I can’t bear the thought of leaving him.

“Every day I think about Luke and wish he was here still, but I only have memories and photos, that’s all we have left.”

Kevin Branston, Luke’s dad, said: “Sometimes I feel guilty for still being here when Luke’s not. I miss him all the time.”

Tarmac Aggregates Limited, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £1,275,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 in costs at Leicester Crown Court yesterday.

A spokesperson for Tarmac said: “We acknowledge the impact of the tragic incident which occurred at Mountsorrel Quarry in 2017 and we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Luke Branston. 

“The safety of everyone at our sites is of the highest importance to Tarmac and is the primary focus at our operations every day. We have fully cooperated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout the investigation and have implemented a number of actions to prevent reoccurrence.” 

HSE inspector Adrian Jurg said: “This is a devastating tragedy that claimed the life of a young man. Luke’s family have made clear the impact his passing has had on their lives and our thoughts remain with them.

“When a company like Tarmac profit from the hard work of contractors like Luke then the very least they owe him and his family is a duty to ensure he gets home safe at the end of his shift.”

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