Fewer farm workers were killed last year, according to provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive.

Some 34 people lost their lives in work-related incidents in the year to March 2011 – a decrease on the previous year, when 39 died.

The rate of fatal injury in the agricultural sector has now fallen to eight out of 100,000 workers. The average rate for the last five years has been 9.6 out of 100,000.

But HSE board member for agriculture, Sandy Blair, said the number of fatalities remained far too high. “The number of workers killed each year in the agricultural industry remains stubbornly consistent,” he said. “We must not lose sight of the fact 34 workers failed to come home safe.”

The slight decrease should give some encouragement to the industry to keep seeking improvements in farm safety, said Mr Blair. But lives would continue to be saved only if efforts were maintained.

“Agriculture is as much a community as it is an industry, which makes these deaths all the more devastating.”

Mr Blair acknowledged industry efforts towards removing the label of being one of the most dangerous ways to earn a living in Britain. But he added: “There is certainly more to do and we have good reason to believe only continued effort across the industry will improve safety.”

When it comes to farm safety, there is no room for complacency. Farmers Weekly is committed to pushing the safety message through our Farm Safety initiative. There’s an “It happened to me…” thread on the FWi forums where readers are outlining their health and safety near-misses in a bid to share awareness about potential dangers. See what others are saying and add your story.