A COMPANY has been fined just £1 over the death of a worker who fell 20ft when faulty scaffolding collapsed.

Peter Walton’s widow Christine said the punish-ment was ‘an appalling joke’.

The scaffolding at a development in Altham collapsed because a nut had not been tightened correctly.

Glen Mill Group developments, of Nelson, and Howorth’s Scaffolding, of Hapton, were both convicted of failures that led to his death.

Howorth’s was fined £25,000 plus costs while Glen Mill Group (Developments) Ltd was told to pay just £1 after telling judge Andrew Woolman that the firm was insolvent.

Mrs Walton is also unhappy that Howorth's has been allowed to pay back the fine at £1,000 a month to ‘allow the company to exist’.

After the sentencing she said: “To say that I am appalled and shocked with the sentences is an understatement. Just £1 for my husband’s life is awful.

“Not only are the fines pitiful but it sends the completely wrong message out to the construction industry.

“In my opinion the system has shown that more worth has been put on preventing the firms going into administration than on my husband’s life, by imposing pathetic fines which in no way reflect the seriousness of the situation.”

Gordon Birtwistle, Burnley MP, backed Mrs Walton and said: “The fine is an insult and makes a mockery of the prosecution.

“Mrs Walton has been left without a husband but this company has barely even been given a slap on the wrists.”

Glenmill was the principal contractors at the site and the scaffolding contractors were Howorth’s.

Mr Walton, 55, of Thorton Cleveleys, had been employed by another sub-contractor, New Look.

He suffered severe head injuries in the fall in May 2006 and died in the arms of his wife in hospital five weeks later.

Mr Walton had been in a coma and never regained consciousness.

The court heard that the scaffolding at the site on the Altham Industrial Estate collapsed because a nut had not been tightened properly.

Other blunders included the scaffolding being erected on broken concrete, being too far from the building and not having a guard rail.

Last month Glen mill managing director Peter Shearer appeared at court with Ian Howorth, boss of Howorth Scaffolding, to admit health and safety breaches.

Yesterday the Lancashire Telegraph was unable to contact anyone at Glen Mill.

A statement from Howorth’s read: “Howorth Scaffolding Services sincerely regret the death of Peter Walton.

“At the time of this tragic accident Howorth Scaffolding Services had both a responsible attitude to health and safety and a blemish-free health and safety record.

“Howorth Scaffolding Services has taken all necessary steps to ensure that a similar incident cannot happen again.

“We would like to take this opportunity to extend our profound sympathy and condolence to Mr Walton’s family.”

Judge Woolman said Glen Mill, which was insured against the prosecution costs, must pay £13,793 within 28 days.

Howorth Scaffolding was fined £25,000 plus £13,793 in costs.

Both firms had earlier pleaded guilty before magistrates to a charge of exposing to risk persons not in their employment, in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Judge Woolman said: “Glen Mill had been hit by the recession, had no real assets and had hardly traded since 2007.

“I am satisfied that the company does not have ready money to pay a large fine and that any fine will have to be paid out of future profits.”

The judge allowed Howorth's to pay at £1,000 a month, to “allow the company to exist”.

After the case, HSE Inspector Ian Connor said: “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.”