There has been a dramatic reduction in the number of farm deaths in Northern Ireland last year.

But the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) said despite the fall, there is no room for complacency.

Figures released by the executive show that work-related fatalities in agriculture in 2013-14 was down to four, compared with 11 in the previous year – a fall of 67%.

Read more news on farm health and safety

The executive described the drop in farm fatalities as “very encouraging”, but farm safety continued to be the biggest challenge facing workplace health and safety in Northern Ireland.

Keith Morrison, HSENI chief executive, said: “The reduction in fatalities during 2013-14 is very encouraging but there is certainly no room for complacency, particularly given that this year to date has already sadly witnessed another four fatalities in agriculture.

“We must collectively continue to do all we can to ensure that farm deaths and accidents become a thing of the past.”

Mr Morrison added that he was “very grateful” to the organisations that make up the HSENI-led Farm Safety Partnership, which had made a “major contribution” towards raising awareness of farm health and safety issues.

The partnership developed a second Farm Safety Action Plan and delivered a major multimedia farm safety campaign during the year, co-sponsored by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Dard) and supported by all partners.

Staff from HSENI undertook 1,000 advisory farm visits and delivered over 35 farm safety presentations to a wide range of audiences at events across Northern Ireland during the year.

George Lucas, chair of HSENI and the Farm Safety Partnership, said HSENI’s annual report also highlighted the successful delivery of two important public awareness campaigns that focused on gas safety – one to raise awareness of carbon monoxide and a second to encourage the use of registered gas installers.

But he added: “Every death or serious injury illustrates the need for employers and employees to be constantly focused on health and safety.

“Together, I believe we can make Northern Ireland’s workplaces even safer.”

Read more stories like this