A UK exit from the European Union would be a "travesty" for all Scots workers as rights accumulated over decades come under attack, a leading health and safety lawyer has warned.

Patrick McGuire said workplace laws would reduce to a bare minimum in the event of a Brexit vote in June.

One leading employers' organisation also said European directives and laws on workplace issues was the main pulling factor for many businesses which are supporting the campaign to stay in the EU.

Mr McGuire, a solicitor advocate specialising in personal injury and health and safety law, said: "It's as simple as this. Every example and instance of legislation and rules changes that have enhanced workers' rights have been directly because of laws, directives, rules and treaties that have come from Europe.

"The issue touches on the lives of every single working person in the UK; people who go to do a day's work and return in the same physical and mental condition. If they are removed significantly more people will be injured and maimed and that would tear apart families and communities."

His comments come on the back of a report by the TUC highlighting concern that a Conservative government could start to roll back rights and protections endorsed by Brussels.

Areas covered by the employment laws across the EU include terms and conditions such as working time, part-time and fixed-term work, discrimination, equal pay and the protection of pregnant workers.

It also includes informing and consulting workers in collective redundancy and business transfer situations.

Mr McGuire also pointed to interviews with pro-Brexit minister and Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling where reform of EU workplace regulations has been a major topic.

He said: "If the UK were to exit the European Union it would be a travesty for workers' rights. It would unleash a Tory Government which has shown a religious dedication towards destroying individual, collective and trade union rights.

"Brexit couldn't remove totally the right to rely on European health and safety laws but it would reduce them to a bare minimum.

"It will mean eventually that there will be no industry or employee safe from the vagaries of bad employers. No-one will be immune. The idea of paternal employers won't work. People will be killed, injured and mistreated in their work."

He added: "It's crucial that issues like this have a light shone upon them and we are not distracted by games about political parties. Personality politics is being played out at the expense of every working person in the UK."

Stephen Boyd, assistant secretary of the STUC, said: “It is important that attention is drawn to the very real, tangible damage to workers’ rights that Brexit could unleash. A number of significant employment rights derive from membership of the EU and there is no guarantee that these would be maintained on Brexit.

"Indeed, the current government has already demonstrated its craving for removing such hard won workplace protections. The case for Brexit is often framed around getting rid of Brussels ‘red-tape’. Let’s be clear, in this context ‘red-tape’ is a brazen proxy for important legislation protecting the interests of workers, consumers and the environment."

David Watt, of the Institute of Directors Scotland, said that while most of the group's membership were edging towards voting to stay in the EU, even more were keen on EU reform, with workplace issues the priority.

He said: "Amongst negative views of the EU, there's a very real perception that most that Europe is responsible for a lot of bad legislation. There are costs associated with rights and often businesses lay these costs at the door of the EU.

"Our members don't think about the reform of the migration agenda. There are other more relevant reform issues for Scottish businesses."

Hugh Aitken, CBI Scotland, said: "The single market is a huge benefit to British industry.

“As part of that, businesses rightly accept the need for standards of social protection, from anti-discrimination laws to paid holiday.

“Ensuring that EU social policy supports growth and jobs is an ongoing priority for businesses across the EU.”

Former Edinburgh South MP Nigel Griffiths, who heads the Labour Leave campaign, said a Brexit would mean "exactly the opposite" for workers.

He accused Mr McGuire and the STUC of "scaremongering", saying: "It is clear that the real threat to drive down workers' rights comes from a right-wing dominated-EU, led by Angela Merkel and Poland’s Prime Minister’s Beata Szydlo’s right wing party.

"In the words of Ian Hodson, from the Bakers' Union, ‘anyone who thinks the EU is protecting UK workers in 2016 is living in the past’."

He added: "Equal pay was campaigned for by Barbra Castle in a Labour cabinet long before we joined the then-EEC. And it was a Labour Government who delivered this, not Brussels.

"Labour won the 1997 election by promising a minimum wage , paid holidays, maternity pay and sick pay – 5 key rights for workers delivered by Labour and nothing to do with the EU.

"These rights are so popular today that even the Conservatives have said they will never reverse them.

"So Brexit is not any threat, but remaining in, under the control of the right wing parties that dominate today's EU, could well be a threat to UK workers' rights."