Tarmac fined £1.275m over contractor death

Mountsorrel Quarry

Tarmac Aggregates has incurred a fine of almost £1.3m due to failures which resulted in the death of a 26-year-old contractor.

Luke Branston was fatally injured while carrying out repairs on a conveyor belt at Mountsorrel Quarry.

Mountsorrel Quarry annually handles approximately five million tonnes of rock, which undergoes crushing before being transported to rail wagons via extensive conveyor belt systems.

These conveyor belts are routinely halted during the night time hours, facilitating regular maintenance and cleaning operations, which take place from midnight until 5 am.

The incident occurred just prior to 5 am.

Branston Site Services, a company exclusively engaged with operations at Mountsorrel Quarry, employed Branston, who held roles as an employee and a director within the family-owned company.

In Leicester Crown Court, Judge Gregory Dickinson KC instructed the company to cover the fine along with an additional £200,000 in court expenses.

During the court proceedings, it was revealed that Luke had an obligation to maintain equipment at the quarry.

He was positioned on the conveyor belt when it unexpectedly activated, drawing him into the machinery and resulting in his fatal injury.

Notably, there were no audible alarms or warning lights to alert Branston to the danger, while the conveyor had been activated by another individual, located approximately a mile away on the site, who was unaware that work was underway.

During the court proceedings, it was revealed that Branston’s co-worker, Tom Ryan, inadvertently engaged the isolation switch in the “on” position rather than turning it “off” and a test button verifying the switch’s deactivation was found to be malfunctioning.

The court also learned that Ryan tragically took his own life approximately 18 months following the incident, which occurred on June 21, 2017.

The prolonged duration of the case’s resolution was, in part, due to Tarmac initially entering a plea of not guilty.