Rise in workplace deaths in north west England

The number of work-related deaths in north west England has risen by 35% in the past year, new figures show.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said 23 people in the region were killed at work in the year to April 2011, compared to 17 the previous year.

A total of 142 people across England died in the workplace. Most were in construction and manufacturing.

Alongside Yorkshire, the North West had the highest figure anywhere in the country, the HSE said.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, said the number of deaths in England was "disappointing" after an all-time low last year. However, the figures remain among the lowest in Europe.

'More risky'

"It is a stark reminder of the need to ensure that health and safety remains focused on the real risks, which exist in workplaces not on trivia and pointless paperwork," she added.

Mike MacDonald from Prospect, the union which represents many HSE workers, said: "As the economy comes out of recession, as new staff go into the workforce it is likely workplaces will become more risky.

"At the same time government has cut back funding of the HSE by 35%."

He said the HSE's enforcement role would continue but he was concerned that its advisory role would be run down.

"In an industrial sector, if an inspector visits company A ... our experience is that the companies around know the HSE is around and pick up their performance," he said.

"As whole sectors of the economy see pro-active inspections disappear then that deterrent and advisory impact is lost."

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