The UK Government has been accused of being dishonest over a "compensation culture" in British industry to justify cuts in health and safety protections.

The TUC said the number of people receiving awards for work-related injuries or diseases has fallen by 60% over the past decade to fewer than 90,000 cases.

The chances of getting compensation for most occupational cancers is below one in 50, a study for the TUC by health journal Hazards showed.

More than 4000 workers die every year of work-related chronic bronchitis and emphysema, but compensation was paid out in just 59 cases in the past year, said the report.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The Government is trying to brainwash people into thinking the UK has a rife compensation culture.

"However, the facts tell a very different story. Even those dying from work-related diseases have precious little chance of getting a payout.

"The true Government motive here is to weaken health and safety laws and make it harder to for victims to pursue claims."

Hazards editor Rory O'Neill, professor of occupational health at Stirling University, said: "The Government's cynical promotion of a compensation culture myth means many workers who are dying in pain are also dying in poverty.

"We are seeing a denial of justice because the Government is putting the health of the insurance industry and the safety of the most dangerous rogues in the business community over the health, safety and survival of people at work."