TRAMPING through the Pembrokeshire countryside is a joy. The green fields, the grazing livestock, the rolling hills. But some pretty nasty things can, and do, happen to people who work the land.

Farming is officially the most dangerous industry with a fatality rate higher than any other sector.

The farming industry is risky for a multitude of reasons. How many jobs are there in which so many people work beyond retirement age? It is no coincidence that older people make up a large proportion of those who are killed or injured by cattle; to put it bluntly when we get older we are just not agile enough to dodge out of the way if an animal turns on us.

A reason why the Pembrokeshire countryside is loved by so many is its isolation but here lies another big risk factor for farmers. Here is a case in point. My husband popped out the other evening to shift a fence for a group of heifers that needed extra grazing.

Three hours later he still hadn’t returned and alarm bells started to ring – but not his phone which as ever was out of signal. He got a good ticking off when I found him bobbing along on a tractor in the semi-darkness; blithely unaware of the mayhem he had created as he happily rolled in grass seed because he had heard there was rain on its way. It occurred to me that farm accidents happen in isolated places so it can take longer to raise the alarm and for help to arrive.

Unsurprisingly quadbikes and tractors are the most common cause of fatal injury – why oh why do farmers object to wearing helmets? Yes they are a bother to pull on and off – but so is a serious head injury.

Haymaking is another potential hazard. In the long summers of my youth – yes summers really were hotter back then – I would perch precariously at the top of a trailer of hay as it made its way back to the barn along a bumpy track. It wobbled and swayed but I didn’t appreciate the danger, we didn’t in those days, but has anything really changed? People still regularly die after being hit by falling bales.

Even people who don’t live in the countryside know that they must beware of the bull – it seems to be one of those facts that is drilled into us at an early age – but in fact it's the angry cow that we need to watch out for. Cows with calves have fierce protective instincts, and a herd mentality might trigger an attack if they feel threatened.

Animals can also cause injuries accidentally through simple curiosity. A few weeks ago I was nudged and barged by a group of thirsty cattle when I tried to fill up their trough after the water supply failed. They were parched and cross and nothing was going to get in the way of them and a drink of water.

So what’s to be done to make farming safer? GPS might make a difference for farmers working alone in remote locations and there is no place for visitors, children and the elderly near machinery and vehicles. Right to roam laws have made the countryside more accessible to walkers but for goodness sake keep dogs on leads and keep a safe distance from livestock.

There is no simple answer to farm safety. Enforcement and regulation won’t make the countryside safer but a change of culture might.