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Child Safety on Farms

With the on-going easing of restrictions, children may be attending summer camps & meeting friends. However, children will still be spending more time on farms during their holiday time and Jacinta O' Neill, Teagasc Advisor Westport, reminds us that the farmyard is not a playground here

Summer Holiday time on the farm provides children with opportunities to be outside getting exercise, exploring nature and helping with farming tasks.

Most children like to be outside helping on the farm. Mending fences and walls, hanging gates, tidying the farmyard, picking an odd stone, checking animals - there is always a job to be done. It is however important for everyone to remember that farms are not playgrounds and that when children are out on the farm they must be closely supervised and only take part in age appropriate tasks.

Childhood Fatalities

  • Health and Safety Authority figures tell us that sadly over 20 children lost their lives as a result of farm accidents in the past 10 years. 
  • Over 80% of childhood deaths on farms had a farm vehicle or a machine involved.
  • We must do better and protect children at all times on our farms.
  • We must think about how we manage our farms and how we can safely involve children and young adults in farming activities.
  • Agrikids https://www.agrikids.ie/
  • Teagasc https://www.teagasc.ie/

H.S.A. Guidance: Young Children On Farms

  • A safe and secure play area for young children should be provided, away from all work activities, in full view of the dwelling house.
  • Where children are not in a secure play area, a high level of adult supervision must be provided.
  • For farmers who only have children visiting, it is important that adults make arrangements to ensure children are supervised in these situations.
  • Children should not be allowed access to dangerous areas & actions should be taken to keep children away from these areas (e.g. slurry pits, silage pits, grain / chemical stores, working machinery, high areas).
  • To eliminate the risk of drowning all open water tanks, wells and slurry tanks should be fenced off.
  • Children should be given clear instruction on safety issues on the farm
  • When children have to be carried in the cab, it must be fitted with a properly designed and fitted passenger seat with seat belts.
  • Children should not be left alone in the cab where they may accidentally access the controls.
  • Children should not be allowed near dangerous animals such as bulls, stallions, rams, stags and female animals with new-born young.
  • Young children should not be allowed unsupervised access to the farmyard
  • Discuss farm safety with visitors and agricultural contractors & make contractors aware of the possible presence of children.

Safe Driving for Young Adults

  • Do not allow children under 14 to operate tractors or self-propelled machines.
  • A child or young person aged 14 or over should only be permitted to drive a tractor or self-propelled machine on the farm, if:
  1. they have attended a formal training course run by a competent training provider
  2. they are closely supervised by a responsible adult
  3. they have the ability to operate the controls with ease
  4. all the controls are conveniently accessible for safe operation by the operator when seated in the driver's seat
  5. the controls which operate the power take off (PTO) devices, hydraulic devices and engine cut-off are clearly marked to show the effect of their operation
  6. the tractor is maintained so that it is safe for them to operate
  7. the ground over which the tractor is driven is free from hazards such as steep slopes or excavations, river banks, lake or pond edges, deep ditches and similar areas

Safety Resources for Children

The sites below have a wide range of interesting farm safety themed resources for children which can help children explore the world of Farm Safety in the comfort of their own homes:

Risk Assessment for Children on Farms

  • Every farmer with three or less employees must have a farm safety 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.
  • The Farm Safety Code of Practice Risk Assessment Document is designed to help farmers meet their duties under the SHWW Act 2005 in a straight forward and practical way.  It focuses in on the most common hazards and provides workable solutions that can be put in place with minimal to zero cost.

    The Risk Assessment document can also be completed online by logging onto https://farmsafely.com/farmers/00_login.htm


Knowledge of hazards on farms and options that farmers use to help eliminate or manage these hazards is very important. There are approved training courses available at low cost to help farmers learn the skills to identify hazards. Training helps to identify ways to manage safety on the farm and it provides an opportunity to hear the opinions of other farmers. Teagasc provides ½ day training on the farm safety code of practice risk assessment document. To learn more about the course contact any of our Teagasc offices using this link Teagasc Advisory Regions here or see Education and Training

Teagasc Advisors are regular contrbutors of articles on topics of interest to farmers here on Teagasc Daily