Keeping children safe on farm

IT is a very sad reality that every year children are killed during agricultural work activities. Many people believe that farm children understand farm risks, but most children who die in farm incidents are family members.

At the end of last month the Health and safety executive called on farmers to do more to protect their loved ones after an eight-year-old boy fell from a vehicle on his parent’s farm and sadly lost a leg.

As a member of the long-standing Farm safety Partnership (FsP), the FuW can only repeat that call and is urging farmers to remember that farms are a workplace and those managing the workplace should differentiate between working areas and areas that may be seen as part of the home.

Just think about the devastation in a family if a family member is fatally injured or suffers injuries that prevent them from going about their daily business or the devastation caused if a child is injured or, worse, killed.

With this in mind, we want to remind farmers that it is illegal to carry children under 13 in the cab of an agricultural vehicle and it is of course also unsafe.

Children can and do fall from the doorway or the rear

window, interfere with the operator’s control of the vehicle, distract the operator or unintentionally operate controls, eg the parking brake or hydraulics, when the operator leaves the cab, for example to open a gate.

so if you carry children or adults on trailers (e.g. for farm visits, ‘pick-your-own’) please ensure that the trailer is in good condition with all safety devices working, you provide seating and secured the trailer. It is also advisable to fit guard rails around the trailer edges and arrange safe mounting and dismounting.

And please make sure that children are supervised by a responsible adult.

We would also urge you to make sure that contractors and visiting drivers have clearly defined directions on where to park, load and unload and where to wait. This is particularly important if you are aware of public access routes across yards or if the delivery zone is adjacent to the farmhouse.

The most recent example of the eight-year-old boy needing to have his leg amputated should serve as a stark warning to everyone not to be complacent about farm safety and to take extra care of those we love.

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