EMPLOYERS are being urged to focus on risk after five workers lost their lives while at work in the North-East last year and more than 1,000 suffered a major injury.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has asked businesses to rethink workplace safety provisions next year after the number of deaths across the country failed to show a significant fall in 2011- 12.

A total of 173 workers died at work in the UK last year, compared to 175 worker deaths during 2010-11. More than 23,000 workers also suffered a major injury.

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The five deaths and 1,055 major injuries in the North- East last year compare to five deaths and 1,242 major injuries in 2010-11.

Another 3,887 North East workers suffered injuries which required at least three days off work in 2011-12, compared to 4,096 in 2010-11.

The latest provisional figures show that nationwide, on average, six in every million workers were killed while at work between April last year and March this year.

High-risk industries include construction, which had 49 deaths last year, agriculture with 33 deaths, manufacturing with 31 deaths and waste and recycling with five deaths – making up more than half of all workplace deaths in the country during 2011-12.

Urging employers to make the safety of workers their top priority for 2013, David Snowball, HSE’s director for Scotland and Northern England, said: “Each year families of workers in the North-East who failed to come home from work spend Christmas and the New Year thinking of the loved ones who are not there to enjoy it with them.

“Hundreds of other workers who have had their lives changed by major injury will be experiencing difficulties of their own.

“Health and safety in the workplace needs to be taken seriously. I hope that in 2013 employers will tackle the real rather than the trivial dangers that workers face and not mire themselves in pointless paperwork so we can reduce the number of workplace deaths and major injury.”

For more information on tackling health and safety dangers in workplaces, visit the HSE’s website at hse.gov.uk