NuGen Properties

Tarmac hit for £1.5m after workplace fatality

Luke Branston was crushed against the feed hopper

Luke Branston, aged 26 and from Leicester, died in the early hours of 21st June 2017 after becoming trapped between a conveyor and a feed hopper at Tarmac’s quarry near Loughborough.

He was part of the nightshift maintenance team from Branston Site Services that was repairing a feed hopper.

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

The conveyor was then inadvertently switched on, trapping Luke against the feed hopper and fatally crushing him.

A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into this incident found Tarmac Aggregates Limited, as the owner and operator of Mountsorrel Quarry, had failed to ensure the feed hopper was properly isolated before the repair work began.

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 that the company had 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 HSE said.

Tarmac Aggregates Limited, of Trinity Park, Bickenhill Lane, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £1,275,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 in costs at Leicester Crown Court on 27th September 2023.

Luke Branston went stock car racing every weekend
Luke Branston went stock car racing every weekend

HSE inspector Adrian Jurg said after sentencing: “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.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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