FARMERS are urged to remain vigilant after agriculture was found to be Britain's most dangerous industry.

Figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that 30 people were killed on British farms between last April and March this year, two of them in the North East, giving agriculture the highest rate of fatal injury.

The death rate is around 18 times higher than the all industry rate and around six times that of the construction industry which the public might perceive as more dangerous.

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The most frequent cause, accounting for around 30 per cent of farm fatalities, was being hit by a vehicle followed by being trapped by something collapsing, struck by an object, contact with electricity, falling from a height and seven per cent were injured by an animal.

In the North East, a 61-year-old woman died after she was attacked by cattle whilst out walking with her family and a 72-year-old was killed when his head became trapped between a mini-digger and a building.

Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, of Newcastle-based farm insurance specialist Lycetts, said while some of the deaths were due to freak accidents, many could have been prevented.

He said: "Although this is a sad fact, this gives us hope that, with better practice on farms and safer use of machinery, incidents like this could become rarer."

“It is also promising to see that, although the fatal injury rate for agriculture has shown no clear trend over the past 35 years, there are signs of improvement over the past five years.

“Hopefully this is down to farmers being more vigilant about safety and risk assessments – but we still have a way to go.”