Statistics released for the period April 2011 to March 2012 show that not only is farming the most dangerous but it is getting more dangerous. For the year to March 2012 there were 33 deaths in agriculture compared with 30 deaths the previous year – an increase of nearly 10%. Of those killed 11 were employees and 22 were self employed. In addition to the deaths of those engaged in agriculture six members of the public were killed as a direct result of agricultural activities.

Although the construction industry saw more deaths over the period than farming (at 49 deaths) the death rate per 100,000 people in agriculture was higher at 9.7 than in construction which was 2.3. That means an employee in agriculture stands a greater risk of getting killed than one in construction.

The statistics published by the HSE show the overall death rate in Britain remains largely unchanged, 173 compared with 175 deaths the previous year.

Most common causes of serious injury or death in the farming sector

Some of the most common causes of serious injury or death in the farming sector include:

Falls from height
Struck by moving or falling objects (bales, trees etc)
Trapped by something collapsing or overturning

Livestock related incidents
Asphyxiation / drowning

HSE chair Judith Hackitt said: “We must not forget that these are lives cut short, not statistics - every single one of these deaths will have caused terrible grief and anguish for family and friends as well as workmates and colleagues.

“This is the real tragedy of health and safety failures – lives cut short and loved ones lost.”

“We want employers to focus on the real risks that continue to cause death and serious injury. HSE is working very hard to make it easier for people to understand what they need to do and to focus on the real priorities. Protecting people from death and serious injury at work should be at the heart of what we all do.”

Peter Mulhern, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “Despite agriculture making up a small proportion of the UK's workforce it remains the most dangerous. Every death is a personal tragedy and is a solemn reminder of the dangers workers but also members of the public face on farms. Every death or serious injury is one too many. It is as incredible as it is unacceptable for the figures to remain as high as they are. More must be done to improve the sector as a whole.”