Child Safety on Farms in 2022
The farm safety week theme for Tuesday is Child safety on farms. Francis Bligh, Teagasc Health & Safety Specialist outlines ways to keep children safe on farm. He discusses the importance of teaching children about farm safety and lists various resources for children including ‘Stay Safe with Jessy'
Does your child have a farm safety idea - Show Jessy and win!
Find out about the ‘Stay Safe with Jessy' art competition, how to enter and what can be won. Closing date for entries is 22 July. (4-12 year olds!) See Farm Safety Competition
The farm is an excellent place to help children learn about and care for animals, biodiversity and the environment but risk exists. Children must be closely supervised at all times when they are on a farm.
Health and Safety Authority figures tell us that sadly 22 children lost their lives as a result of farm accidents in the past 10 years. HSA figures also tell us that 91% of childhood deaths on farms had a farm vehicle or a machine involved. We must actively manage our farms so that we protect children.
A safe and secure play area is very important. The play area should be located away from all work activities, in full view of the dwelling house. This can be difficult for farmers where the dwelling house is in ghe farmyard or where children visit occasionally. It is important in these situations that adults make arrangements to ensure children are supervised.
Teach your child how to be safe on the farm
Talk to children about safety on the farm. Tell them about the dangers and set the rules. But don't expect a child to take on the responsibility of keeping themselves safe. Children do not understand danger.
Falls from Heights
Children should not be allowed to access heights. Equipment like gates left against walls, sheds can collapse if a child attempts to climb them. . Don't allow children to play on bales. Falling from a bale can cause devastating injuries and death. Children could also fall down between bales were suffocation is a high risk.
Drowning on the farm
To eliminate the risk of drowning all open water tanks, wells and slurry tanks should be fenced off. Empty unused water tanks and troughs.
Tractors and farm vehicles
Tractors and farm machinery are very interesting for children. An adult should always supervise children on the farm and children should never be allowed near tractors or farm machinery. Remember a tractor and farm machinery is also high risk when it is not working.
- Children under seven cannot travel on a tractor.
- Children 7 years old can travel in the cab of a tractor or other farm machinery if a passenger seat and seat belt is provided.
- Make contractors aware of the possible presence of children.
- Never allow children to use or travel on quad bikes.
- Supervise children on the farm
- Don't give children the habit of 'getting spins' on tractors and other farm vehicles.
- lower all equipment to the ground
- remove keys
- lock vehicles
Child Safety with Farm Animals
It is important that Children get to see animals on the farm. This must always be with adult supervision. Children should not be allowed near dangerous animals such as bulls, stallions, rams, stags and female animals with new-born young.
Animals can become curious when they see children so staying behind secure fencing or gates is advised. Never allow children to feed or interact with animals while unsupervised. They do not see the danger. Always wash hands after interacting with animals.
Keep all pesticides, veterinary medicines and other chemicals
- away from children
- in their original labelled containers
- in a securely locked store
Remember if a child is suspected of being in contact with a farm chemical take note of the label of the product as your doctor or emergency services will ask for this information.
Safety Resources for Children
When children are out on the farm it is important to discuss the many dangers that exist and explain the reasons why it is important to farm safely. Teagasc have a wide range of interesting farm safety themed resources for children which are available on the Teagasc website. These can help children explore the world of Farm Safety in the comfort of their own homes.
The following resources are available:
- Staying safe on the farm with Jessy helps children learn about farm safety with Jessy the dog and her three puppies. Stay safe on the farm with jessy (PDF)
- Teagasc and Agrikids produce regular farm safety themed newsletters for children. These can be viewed at Jessys smart kids
- Teagasc work closely with The Health and Safety Authority to assist in the production of farm safety video content which can be accessed at Child safety videos
- The HSA have produced free online courses on the topic of safe farming that children, young adults and farmers would find very informative, Follow the link to find out more HSA learning - Farm Safety
Risk Assessment for Children on Farms
Every farmer with three or less employees must have a farm safety risk assessment document Farm Safety Code of Practice Risk Assessment Document completed for their farm. One of the first sections of this document details measures that farmers should implement to help keep children safe.