Peter and Christine Walton

Firms’ safety breaches led to worker’s death

Two Lancashire companies have been fined following the death of a construction worker in Altham near Accrington four years ago.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted Howorth Scaffolding Services and Glenmill Group (Developments) after Peter Walton fell five metres from scaffolding on Altham Industrial Estate, Sykeside Drive on 10 May 2006.

The 55-year-old from Anchorsholme, near Blackpool, had been working on a project to build three new office blocks when he fell. Preston Crown Court heard that Walton was critically injured when an unsecured board on the scaffolding gave way. He died five weeks later in hospital.

His widow, Christine Walton, said: "It has been four long, stressful years since the incident that eventually took Peter's life. He meant everything to me and I will love, miss and mourn him for the rest of my life.

"I know that the conclusion of this prosecution won't bring him back but it will help to give me some sort of closure, and to bring this type of incident to the forefront. Sadly Peter's death is just one of many needless deaths that occur in the construction industry due to slack adherence to health and safety regulations.

"Hopefully what happened to Peter, and is still happening on construction sites, will make people realise that health and safety laws are there to protect us and are not to be scorned and scoffed at."

Howorth Scaffolding Services and Glenmill Group (Developments) both pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by putting workers at risk.

Howorth Scaffolding, of Accrington Road in Hapton, was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £13,793 toward the cost of the prosecution. Glenmill Group, of Turner Road, Lomeshaye Business Village in Nelson, was ordered to pay a nominal fine of £1 with costs of £13,793 toward costs. The judge said the fines reflect the companies' current financial situations.

HSE Inspector Ian Connor said: "Both these companies contributed to Peter Walton's death by failing to follow the proper safety procedures for putting up scaffolding.

"Howorth Scaffolding should have made sure that it constructed the scaffolding properly. And, as the principal contractor for the site, Glenmill Group should have ensured it was safe before allowing construction workers onto it.

"This is an extremely sad case which once again shows how important it is to follow health and safety regulations. It's vital that construction companies do more to prevent deaths and injuries in the future."

Falls from height continue to be a major cause of workplace injuries in Britain; 15 workers lost their lives and there were nearly 11,500 serious injuries across Great Britain in 2008/09, including 299 serious injuries from falls in Lancashire.

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