Agriculture remains the most dangerous profession in the UK, the latest figures show.

A total of 45 people died on UK farms in the 12 months up to April 2011.

That means deaths in the sector account for one in 10 fatalities at work, even though agriculture makes up a small proportion of the UK’s workforce.

Figures for Northern Ireland caused the gravest concern according to HSE officials. Eleven workers died in the province almost double the number in 2009/2010.

Another 34 fatalities ocurred on farms in Great Britain, just one fewer than the five year average.

The GB statistics also show that eight walkers died on farms, an increase on the previous year’s toll of five.

The main causes of accidents were:
• Tractors and machinery not being maintained properly and people not being effectively trained to use them
• Work with animals, particularly bulls and heifers at calving
• Falling when doing work at height particularly when repairing roofs

Health and Safety Executive chairwoman Judith Hackitt described the figures as “unacceptable”.

“People in farming don’t have minor injuries,” she said. “When they get injured, it’s bad.

“If I had sons I would not want them to work in agriculture,” she added.

Young Farmers Club chairman James Chapman, who lost his arm in a farm accident, said there was a host of reasons why farming was dangerous.

“It’s often because people are left alone,” said Mr Chapman. “Also, they could be young and inexperienced, or older people, who would have retired maybe five or 10 years ago in other industries.

“They are still working on farms with big kit and big animals,” he said.

He advised others to “look at what you’re doing before you go running in”.

“You could make a mistake that you’ll live with for the rest of your life,” said Mr Chapman who recently received the NFU/Farmers Weekly Farming Champion of the Year award.


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