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  1. ITV Report

HSE highlights main reasons for prosecution

Hardhats feature safety messages in a government campaign Photo: PA

The Health and Safety Executive says that workplace falls and dangerous machines are the two most common reasons for companies being prosecuted over health and safety breaches in the North West. The HSE successfully brought 65 cases to court in the region during the 12 months from April 2013, with 14 cases involving work at height and 12 involving unsafe machinery.

In the North West these included a construction company and sub-contractor from Bolton who appeared before magistrates after a worker suffered a fractured skull and broken back when he fell from a house roof. A recycling plant in Kelbrook was also fined £46,000 after a worker almost lost his arm when it became trapped in machinery.

On average, 23 people are killed while at work in the North West every year, with an estimated 181 lives lost across Great Britain. In 2012/13, falls from height were the most common cause of workplace deaths, accounting for almost a third of fatal injuries to workers. The figures also show the manufacturing industry was responsible for almost one in five deaths and injuries to workers, despite the sector only employing around 10 percent of the British workforce.

Steven Smith, HSE's Head of Operations in the North West, said: "Sadly, it's often only after the death or major injury of an employee that firms take action to improve safety but hopefully, by bringing these cases to court, we'll raise awareness of the issues and help prevent future incidents.

"It's vital that firms carrying out work at height do more to stop employees being injured in falls. That could include using scaffolding or harnesses, or installing netting under fragile roof panels.

"Factories also need to do more to make sure their machines are safe to use. That means installing suitable guards to prevent workers being trapped by dangerous moving parts and ensuring that maintenance work is carried out safely.

"It needn't take any more than a few minutes to assess the risks created by a particular work activity and could end up saving someone's life."