FARMERS across the south are being urged to rethink their attitude to safety after a nationwide surge in deaths.

New statistics show that 41 people involved in farming and other agriculture-related activities were killed in 2020/21 - almost double the figure recorded in the previous 12 months.

The Health and Safety Executive says two of the deaths took place in the south east region, which includes Hampshire .

A 56-year-old man was trampled by bulls and a 47-year-old man was crushed between a tractor and a sprayer tank.

Most of the people who die each year are struck by moving vehicles, killed by an animal, hit by an object, fall from height or come into contact with moving machinery.

Alex Cormack, of Lycetts Risk Management Services, said: "Fatal injury rates in agriculture remain notoriously high, earning it the unenviable reputation as the riskiest industry sector.

“Just over one in a hundred personnel work in agriculture but the sector accounted for one in four fatal injuries this year.

“We know that farmers face a myriad of potential hazards and that the demanding, solitary and relentless work associated with agriculture heightens their exposure to risk.

“But we are seeing the same causes of fatal injury crop up time and time again."

Mr Cormack risks could be reduced by following safety procedures, handling chemicals correctly, checking the robustness of roofs and platforms, handling livestock carefully and ensuring jobs that required more than one person had sufficient manpower.

He added: "Family members are also put at risk – seven members of the public were killed in 2020/21, two of whom were children.

“A split-second decision can mean the difference between life and death, so it's critically important that farmers stop, think twice and treat every task with risk management and health and safety at the forefront of their minds.”

Lycetts director, Matt McWhirter, urged farmers to rethink their attitude not only to farm safety but also their own protection.

He said: “It's a common assumption that if something does happen to farmers their family will automatically get a share of the farm, but even in the most straightforward, clear-cut scenarios estate settlement can be protracted.

“Often farmers take great care in protecting their assets, be it farm machinery or livestock, but don’t give themselves the same consideration.

“If cows are better insured than they are, farmers need to have a hard think."