Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said companies should be subject to greater fines.
“A statutory duty on directors is high on the TUC’s agenda,” he said.
“We also need higher fines and we want the courts to enforce them.
"To me this is a crime wave on a massive scale – a crime wave that screams out for action.”
According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures, of those 20,000 at-work fatalities more than 1,000 are work-related driving incidents.
Many others die because of stress-related heart attacks and work-linked cancers.
The HSE estimates that at least 80% of workplace injuries are a direct result of poor health and safety management.