As the weather and daylight hours improve it’s the time when more and more children are outside playing – and putting themselves into potential danger in the farmyard. Plan ahead and make sure your holding is child friendly and all the risks are minimised.
And remember, although parents should prevent their children from playing around the farmyard, the lure of tractors, machinery and animals, they are still at risk. And it is you, every adult working in agriculture, whether farm owner, contractor or worker, who must take responsibility for youngsters.
Machinery and vehicles
Just a quick check of any area which can be accessed should be looked at with a critical eye to the potential danger, and either removed, or made safe.
Top of the list is making sure no-one under 16 should drive a quad, whilst the age limit for tractors is 13, as long as they do not take passengers. All of them must be trained and competent.
Other essentials include never leaving keys in the machines and put somewhere safe, putting on the parking brake, lowering implements and locking any doors and ensuring all guards are in place.
Emergency telephone numbers – strategically placed.
Arrangement for calling help – all family members should know.
Basic first aid and training, including resuscitation – at least one person should be qualified.
First aid kits – to treat any minor injuries.
Farmyard and buildings
Warn drivers that children may be about with signs, keeping the yard clean and tidy, plan traffic routes to avoid reversing machinery, making clear views at corners, cover all access to augers, elevators and if possible, setting aside a secure area for children to play in.
Children shouldn’t play around livestock areas, should always have adult supervision when in contact with animals, ensure all fences, pens and gates are secure, fence off slurry pits and make sure covers are in place, always make sure sheep dips are covered and never left unprotected – and finally always make sure they wash their hands after petting any animals.
Make rules for young people to follow, keep track of where family members are, store guns and ammunition in locked strongroom or cabinet and make sure all chemicals are clearly marked and locked away.