The number of people killed at work fell to a five-year low in the West Midlands despite a UK-wide rise last year.

Work-related fatalities reduced to 11 in the region last year, according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Meanwhile, across the UK, nine more people died during the course of their work, rising to a total of 142.

The cost of work injuries and ill health to the economy was estimated to be £14.3 billion, a slight increase on the previous 12 months.

The figures for 2014-15 showed that 1.2 million people were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work, of which half a million were new conditions that started during the year.

A further 800,000 former workers were suffering from an illness which was caused or made worse by their past work.

The new figures showed that 2,538 people died from asbestos-related diseases in 2013, virtually the same as the previous year.

A total of 27.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury, slightly down on the previous year.

HSE chairwoman Judith Hackitt said: “It’s encouraging that there have been improvements in injuries and ill-health caused by work-related activities. But behind the statistics are people, their families, friends, work colleagues, directly affected by something that’s gone wrong, that is usually entirely preventable.

“Nobody should lose their life or become ill simply from doing their job. These figures show that, despite the great strides and improvements made over the last 40 years since Britain’s health and safety regime was established, there is still more that can be done.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a very worrying trend and highlights once again the folly of the Government’s Trade Union Bill. Unions play a crucial role in keeping people safe at work but these new reforms will make it much harder for unions to work with employers to identify potential hazards.

“And allowing untrained temporary workers to cover for experienced staff during strikes could lead to even more accidents at work and put public health at risk.

“Today’s worrying figures on workplace deaths show why we need stronger unions, not weaker ones. After decades of progress, the number of people dying at work every year is now on the up again. This Government’s cavalier attitude to health and safety is going to put even more people at risk of serious injury.

“The small fall in people taking sickness absence because of a work-related illness or injury is welcome, but may be more down to pressure on workers from employers who are increasingly linking time off with disciplinary processes.”

Work-related fatalities in the West Midlands

2009/10: 9
2010/11: 13
2011/12: 18
2012/13: 14
2013/14: 12
2014/15: 11