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Child Safety on a Working Farm

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 4 Mar 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Farm Safe Children Young People

Farms are not a normal play environment, they are in the middle of busy workplace surrounded by chemicals, heavy machinery, large vehicles and animals.

While working farms aimed at children are great fun and a really useful source of education, extra care has to be taken, to ensure their safety. The facts are unfortunately stark: in the last ten years, over 400 children have suffered serious injuries on farms; and 45 children and young people have been killed. It’s therefore vital to take measures that help ensure the safety of children on a farm.

Let's take a look individual aspects of a working farm where we CAN help protect our kids while they're having fun.

Animals

Probably the favourite element of a visit to any working farm for children (and adults if we're honest). Farm animals can harbour harmful diseases which can cause serious illness. Children must therefore practice basic hygiene all the time while on a farm. The most obvious precaution is to wash hands after touching farm animals. Most working farms will provide hand washing facilities where contact with animals can take place.

Wash hands after ALL contact with animals

An adult must ALWAYS be present

If children have contact with animals, an adult must also be on hand. Most farm animals are not aggressive. But they may accidentally knock down and trample children. Where there are animals on a farm, there are likely to be sheep dips and slurry pits. A farmer and any employees must ensure these have covers when not in use.

Farm Machinery

There are laws governing the age at which children and young people can use machinery and farm vehicles.
Children who are not yet 13 years old must NOT operate any farm machinery or drive tractors.

Children 13 years old or over can only ride on a tractor as a passenger if there is a passenger seat and seat belt.

Young people aged 16 years and over can use an ATV. Even then, they must receive training. And they must wear helmets.

General good practice for keeping children out of harm’s way when there’s machinery around is as follows:

  • Don’t leave keys in machinery
  • Keep keys in a childproof place
  • Keep cab doors locked
  • Keep implements on the ground and not suspended in the air
  • Ensure there are guards over any dangerous parts of machinery
  • Forbid children to play on or close to machinery
  • Ensure there are no blind spots for machinery drivers

Farm Buildings and Yards

Anyone working on a farm or visiting must be aware that children may be in the vicinity. Farmers should erect warning signs around farm buildings as necessary. Yards must always be tidy. It’s unwise, for instance to leave tall stacks of feed or fertiliser bags for long where children may climb on them.

Place plenty of warning signs around farm buildings

All ladders must be under lock and key if not required. And all stores should have a lock on them when nobody requires access. Items such as tyres, gates and fencing should rest on the ground. Never prop these items up against walls.

General

  • Lay down health and safety rules for children and young people who live on a farm
  • Keep all guns and ammunition in a padlocked gun cabinet
  • Label Chemicals and lock them in a storage area
  • At all times, know where you expect children or young people to be on the farm

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