The HSE believes some accidents are avoidableAccidents in the workplace that could have been avoided have claimed, on average, nine lives in the north-east over the last five years, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has asserted.

As a result, the group has reminded businesses in this part of the country to continue to put safety first.

However, the overall number of people killed at work in the UK last year fell to a record low of 180, down 17 per cent on the previous figure of 217 in 2005-06.

Pam Waldron, HSE’s head of operations in the north-east, said: "What is important is that people manage the real risks and take a sensible approach to health and safety rather than be diverted by the myths of health and safety."

She called the fact than nine people had died because of avoidable safety failings a "terrible tragedy".

Meanwhile, Nattasha Freeman, the president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said the figures were proof health and safety is not just "mindless bureaucracy".