Birmingham company Tarmac Aggregates Limited fined £1.2 million after man killed at work

Luke Branston, from Leicester, died in the early hours of 21 June 2017 Credit: HSE

A company in Birmingham 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 Branston, from Leicester, died in 2017 after becoming trapped between a conveyor and a feed hopper.

Luke, was completing essential maintenance work on a conveyor belt. However, the power had not been cut before repair work started.

The conveyor was then switched on by a man about a mile away on site who did not realise that work was taking place.

There were no warning sounds or flashing lights to let Luke know that he was in danger, meaning that Luke was trapped against the feed hopper and crushed to death.

Luke's colleague who was there with him the day that he was accidentally killed, later took his own life 18 months later.

The case, which has been heard at Leicester Crown Court, found the company Tarmac Aggregates Limited guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3 (1) of  the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974. They were fined £1,275,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 in costs.

The company responsible had originally pleaded not guilty, and then changed its pleas, admitting its failure to ensure the health and safety of workers on site. 

Despite the incident taking place nearly 6 years ago, Luke's family are still devastated by his loss.

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”. 

Luke’s mother Sharon Branston 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”. 

Kevin Branston, Luke’s dad said that “Luke was the youngest child of my four children. Luke is like a missing link in my life- at work and more as we loved going stock car racing as a family every weekend. Luke’s racing took him all over the country. Every bit of spare time he had was spent in the workshop fixing his cars with his brother Micky. I go in the workshop now and find myself just sitting there getting upset looking at his race car, thinking why him?”.

Luke, pictured, was a big fan of stock car racing in his spare time. Credit: HSE

A Health and Safety Executive investigation into the incident found that Tarmac Aggregates Limited had failed to ensure the proper health and safety of its workers.

They also found that the technical issue that killed Luke had existed for years before the incident, but the company had failed to record and fix the problem.

The company had been convicted previously of nine offences since 1995, including the death of Keith Branston in 2002, who was Luke's great uncle.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Adrian Jurg said: “This is a devastating tragedy that claimed the life of a young man”.

“When a company like Tarmac profit from 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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