Employers are being urged to focus on real risk after five workers lost their lives and more than 900 suffered a major injury while at work in West Yorkshire last year.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has asked business to rethink workplace safety provisions in the New Year after the number of deaths in Great Britain as a whole failed to show a significant fall in 2011/12.

A total of 173 workers were killed at work in Great Britain last year, compared to 175 worker deaths during 2010/11. More than 23,000 workers also suffered a major injury.

The five deaths is the same number in West Yorkshire as recorded the previous year, although the number of serious injuries fell to 912 from 1,097 in 2010/11. Another 3,502 workers suffered injuries which required at least three days off work in 2011/12, again a slight fall from 3,785 in 2010/11.

The latest provisional figures show that nationwide, on average, six in every million workers were killed while at work between April 2011 and March 2012.

High-risk industries include construction, which had 49 deaths last year, agriculture with 33 deaths, manufacturing with 31 deaths and waste and recycling with 5 deaths – making up more than half of all workplace deaths in Great Britain during 2011/12.

Urging employers to make the safety of workers their top priority for 2013, David Snowball, HSE Director for Scotland and Northern England, said:

“Each year, instead of enjoying the occasion, families of workers in West Yorkshire who failed to come home from work safely spend Christmas and the New Year thinking of absent loved ones.

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

“When put into this kind of context, it is clear why health and safety in British workplaces needs to be taken seriously. I implore employers to tackle the real dangers that workers face rather than focussing on the trivial or mire themselves in pointless paperwork.

“My New Year wish is that we can reduce the number of deaths and major injury in 2013 and make the year ahead a happier one for many families.”