Agriculture is considered one of the most hazardous industries to work in and each year children are killed during normal farming operations. Child farm safety should be the highest priority for any farming health and safety plan.
Child farm safety risks
It is often assumed that children from farming families fully understand the health and safety risks. Sadly, however, the majority of child farming fatalities are from within a farm’s own family. The main farm health and safety risks for children are:
- farming vehicles – tractors, quads etc
- chemical and harmful substances
- slips, trips and falls
Farming vehicle safety
The majority of farming accidents involve farming machinery. A key consideration for the safety of children around machinery should focus on never carrying children as passengers. No child under 13 years of age should be carried in the cab of an agricultural vehicle. If you must carry a child as a passenger in a trailer then you must ensure the trailer is in good order with secured seating and a guard rail around the edges.
Even an energetic or playful lamb can cause serious harm to a child. Children should not be able to enter any yard of pen unsupervised and should never be responsible for looking after an animal without close supervision. Chemicals and medicines should be securely locked away to avoid a child picking them up.
Any chemicals or harmful substances should be securely stored out of reach from children, preferably behind a lock. Chemicals should never be left unsupervised in a yard and must be returned to their secure location immediately after use.
Slips, trips and falls
From falling from hay bales to tripping over farm tools to climbing ladders left out, farms can be exciting ‘playgrounds’ to children. Children should never be on a farm or in a yard without close supervision and tools and equipment should be tidied away as soon as possible after use. In short, adult supervision and children only accessing farms when absolutely necessary are the most robust ways of ensuring child farm safety.