LANCASHIRE residents paused to mark the sacrifices made by workers down the generations.
Trade unionists say that every year about 50,000 die owing to workplace incidents, or by workplace cancers and other diseases due to poor employment conditions in the UK.
It is estimated that in the North West more than 5,000 workers lose their lives every year. On Saturday, the shock figures were marked by a display on Preston Flag Market for Preston Workers Memorial Day. Trade unionists say almost every work-related death, injury and illness could be prevented with simple assessment and avoidance and protection from the risks.
Janet Newsham, organiser of the Preston Workers Memorial event, said: “As workers continue to be killed, injured or made ill by work, trade unions, families and work colleagues are asking where is the justice for their members, loved ones and colleagues.
“Most work-related deaths are entirely avoidable and employers who cause them should face severe penalties.”
Organisers Preston Trades Council held a minute’s silence and read out the names of friends, colleagues and relations killed by work.
This year they also considered people in the emergency services who respond to suicide calls, and train drivers and vehicle drivers who have to face the consequences of suicides in their day-to-day jobs.
Hard hats were displayed on the Flag Market to represent the 50,000 people who have died over the last 12 months.
After speeches, trade unionists marched behind a piper to Lune Street to lay wreaths.
A spokesman said: “Much of the pressure to introduce and improve health and safety legislation has come from trade unions but we need stronger enforcement to ensure that there is a more proactive approach to the health safety and welfare of people in work.
“We also want penalties to be increased and a specific duty to hold directors accountable.”