news release



no embargo - 27 October 2010 ( Back to news releases)

Criminal Lancashire company fined just 1 for killing worker Peter Walton

On 26th October in Preston Crown Court a Lancashire company was fined just £1 for killing worker Peter Walton in 2006 (1); on 27th the latest HSE statistics were published.

FACK agrees with Christine Walton that the fines is “an appalling joke” and “an insult” but warns that such paltry slap on the wrist fines are not uncommon, and together with the recent Young Report (2) and government cuts in enforcement of workplace safety and health, threaten to make workers even less safe and healthy in future.

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre spokesperson said: “HSE 2009/10 statistics show a fall to 152 workers killed across GB, down from 179 last year, and 26,061 major injuries; in the North West, 19 workers were killed compared with 23 the year before, and 3,215 workers suffered major injuries’ (3); at least some of the reduction may be due to the recession.  For all these families across the country and in the North West these are terrible tragedies not empty statistics.  In fact the real story is far, far worse, as the HSE does not count all workers killed by work and does not mention the iceberg of those dying every year due to diseases caused by work (4).  Workers are at far greater risk of being killed, suffering major or minor injury and being made ill, than they realise (5)

Families who experienced a workplace death that should have been prevented have been supported by G.M. Hazards Centre in setting up Families Against Corporate Killers (6).  Linzi Herbertson whose husband Andy died in 1998 when he fell from incorrectly erected scaffolding, as Peter Walton did, said:  “Insulting fines are not rare and won’t deter other employers or make them comply with the law to stop killing, injurying or making workers ill, in what are totally preventable incidents and occurrences.  But we are also very worried that current government action, including the Lord Young Report which rubbishes health and safety, plus government slashing the HSE budget by 35%,  and 28% reduction in Local Authority funding, will cut the already inadequate enforcement safety net and yet more families will suffer like us. This is completely unacceptable and FACK has produced a DVD called ‘Face the FACKs: the human cost of workplace killing’ to show that health and safety isn’t a joke, there isn’t too much of it and the government do far more to ensure employers comply so that all workers who go to work come home alive and well to their families at the end of the day.  We’re  telling David Cameron that we didn’t vote to die at work.” (6)

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557 Linzi Herbertson 07709 053176

1. £1 fine over scaffolding fall death 'an insult' BBC news online

2. Common Sense, Common Safety [pdf

3..HSE Statistics [pdf]

4. The Whole Story

5. The UK Statistics Authority in their Report 42 on Assessments of compliance with Code of Practice for official statistics - Statistics on Health and Safety at Work (produced by the HSE) Published May 2010 Para 1.3.4: 'Statistics on work-related injuries and fatalities exclude those injuries that take place on the roads, in the air, at sea and exclude the armed forces. Although this is clearly acknowledged on HSE's website, it is not always made clear in the presentation of the statistics- for example, when addressing the organisation's targets in the compendium for publication. HSE does not produce an overall figure for work-related fatalities in Great Britain.'


7. To order ‘Face the FACKS: the human cost of workplace killing’  [pdf]