Failure to record and rectify critical defects resulted in fatal injuries to maintenance contractor
TARMAC have been fined £1,275,000 after a 26-year-old man was crushed to death during maintenance work at Mountsorrel Quarry in Leicestershire. Luke Branston 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 Ltd, was part of a nightshift maintenance team that was repairing the feed hopper at the quarry. He had been standing on a conveyor that was located beneath the feed hopper and which had not been effectively isolated before the repair work started.
The conveyor was then inadvertently switched on, trapping Mr Branston against the feed hopper and fatally crushing the 26-year-old.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that Tarmac Aggregates Ltd 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 failed to ensure critical defects were recorded and rectified in a timely manner. Also, the company should have provided a visual and audible pre-start alarm for the conveyor.
Tarmac Aggregates Ltd, who pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, were fined £1,275,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 in costs at Leicester Crown Court on 27 September 2023.
HSE inspector Adrian Jurg said: ‘This is a devastating tragedy that claimed the life of a young man. 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. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.’
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 co-operated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout the investigation and have implemented a number of actions to prevent reoccurrence.’