The Health and Safety Authority is to increase the number of farm inspections it carries out this year after figures showed a dramatic increase in the number of workplace deaths on farms in 2010.

25 people were killed on farms last year, the highest number on record, which is a large increase compared with a figure of 10 in 2009, and 21 in 2008.

The HSA says tackling the high fatal accident rate in agriculture is a priority and has established a dedicated inspectorate for the sector.

The number of farm inspections to be carried out in 2011 will increase significantly from 1,700 to a minimum of 3,000.

The HSA says it will work with farmers to improve health and safety management, but is warning it will take enforcement action against those who do not comply.

The HSA says that overall, 47 people died in workplace accidents last year, an increase of four compared with 2009.

The number of deaths in the construction sector decreased in 2010.