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Tarmac fined £1.3m after worker dies in crush

Tarmac Aggregates Ltd has been fined £1.275m by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the death of a contractor.

Luke Branston, aged 26, was crushed to death in June 2017 while repairing a feed hopper at Mountsorrel Quarry, Leicestershire, a Tarmac Aggregates site. Tarmac Aggregates is part of Tarmac, which is ultimately owned by materials giant CRH.

Branston was standing on a conveyor under the feed hopper he was repairing. He was trapped against the feed hopper when the conveyor was inadvertently switched on. HSE found that the conveyor had not been properly isolated through cutting the power before the work started.

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.”

The test button on the conveyor electoral panel did not function, as it was not connected to the test circuit. The HSE found that Tarmac Aggregates had not recorded and sorted out defects in a timely manner. The firm also failed to provide a visual and audible pre-start alarm for the conveyor.

Tarmac Aggregates pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The firm was fined £1.3m and ordered to pay £200,000 in costs at Leicester Crown Court.

Branston Site Services told Construction News: “We’re happy with the outcome, although it was never about the money. It’s been tough, really tough.

“Because we’re a family business, from the day he died we had to rebuild. We’re not as big as what we were.”

Luke’s brother Michael Branston 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.”

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.”

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