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More are dying at work in the North; Figures have doubled in the past year.

Byline: Stephen Cape

THE number of people killed in work-related accidents in the North East has doubled in the past year, according to official figures.

The Health and Safety Executive issued a fresh warning about workplace safety after six people died in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear and County Durham, in 2010/11 compared to just three workers the year before. There was also a rise in major injuries over the same period, with 530 workers seriously hurt last year compared to 509 in 2009/10.

But the latest statistics also revealed that there was a decrease in the number of people who were off work for at least three days because of injury or ill-health caused by accidents at work.

Last night a safety campaigner warned that Government cuts to workplace inspectors had contributed to the rise.

Linda Whelan , whose 23-year-old son Craig was killed alongside another workman when fire swept through a chimney nine years ago, said: "I think the number of deaths will increase next year because of the cuts.

"The number of inspectors is being reduced and this will result in more accidents."

Mrs Whelan, who lives at Willington, County Durham, is one of the co-founders of Families Against Corporate Killers (Fack) which campaigns to improve workplace safety.

She added: "I don't blame the HSE. I blame the Government for making the cuts."

The HSE's head of operations in the North East Pam Waldron said: "The families of the workers who lost their lives last year had to face Christmas without them. Hundreds of other workers have had their lives changed forever by a major injury.

"These statistics highlight why we need good health and safety in British workplaces."

Among the people killed at work last year was Michael Lassen, a 61-year-old who died as he was putting the finishing touches to a new stained-glass window at Durham Cathedral. He fell 20ft from a ladder and suffered a fractured skull in September last year.

The latest figures come as no surprise to the construction union UCATT. A union spokesman said: "Every one of these deaths is an individual tragedy. Someone's loved one has gone to work one day and has not returned . "The vast majority of workplace fatalities are easily preventable. Sadly in dangerous occupations like construction, fatalities are likely to increase in the coming years as new people enter the industry and the HSE struggles to protect workers because of the savage cuts it is experiencing."

Under the Government's austerity programme, the Health and Safety Executive expects to lose 35% of its budget by 2015.

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CAMPAIGNER Linda Whelan from County Durham co-founded Families Against Corporate Killers after her son Craig died in a workplace accident
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 29, 2011
Words:451
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