UNISON has revealed that nearly £2 million has been awarded to members who have suffered from deadly asbestos-related diseases in the last year alone.

The figure, released on International Workers Memorial Day (28 April), highlights the risk that many workers face just doing their day-to-day jobs.

General Secretary, Dave Prentis, will join public sector staff across the UK in a minute's silence at midday, to remember colleagues who have become victims of asbestos and other work-related diseases or those killed or injured in the workplace.

The UK's largest public sector union has fought for justice for thousands of workers, who have been put in danger by their employers, including staff who have suffered permanent injuries as a result of violence while on duty.

In the case of asbestos, many generations of workers have been exposed to it in oil refineries, hospitals, chemical plants, schools, building sites, shipyards, factories, building sites and while taking their lunch in canteens.

Dave Prentis said:

"Health and safety has barely been mentioned during the election campaign, but we want to see preventable accidents becoming a priority.

"Tighter regulations and more inspections - which have declined dramatically - would help tackle the problem.

"It is shocking that so many workers have died, or been seriously injured, because employers have failed to take the necessary steps to protect them.

"Too many employers put short-cuts before the safety of their staff and many workers still suffer in silence, losing their physical and mental health before management are forced to take action.

"UNISON helps members and their families get compensation for injuries and illness. The compensation for asbestos related injuries and deaths, goes some way towards getting justice for the victims, helping them pay for their treatment and funding the families left behind, but it will never make up for the tragic loss of life."

Regional breakdown for the compensation awarded for UNISON members suffering from asbestos related diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural thickening, in the last year:

Eastern - £255,961.82

East Midlands - £140,949

Greater London - £106,013.50

Northern (NE and Cumbria) - £394,761.10

South West - £108,000

Wales - £85,000

West Midlands - £140,078

Yorkshire and Humber - £599,868.17