Keeping children safe on farms

Friday, 15 April, 2022

With the Easter holidays upon us, many children will be about the home and farm over the break. The Ulster Farmers’ Union is urging parents and guardians to be extra vigilant because as highlighted by the HSENI, agriculture has one of the highest fatal accident rates of any industry in Northern Ireland and is also the only high-risk industry that has to deal with the constant presence of children.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said, “Children love to get out on the farm to meet the livestock and see the machinery and with their playful spirits, farms can seem like a great place to play. However, farms, and in particular working farms, are one of the most dangerous working environments and it can be very difficult to supervise children and work on the farm at the same time.

“To protect children from on-farm dangers, I urge our members to put preventative measures in place. This includes providing children with a securely fenced off play area, ensuring unattended vehicles are kept locked, and discouraging children from using bales of any description for playing.

“Parents and guardians need to set a good example for their children when it comes to farm safety as they are extremely observative and learn from us. Therefore, it’s vital that every farmer and farming family take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their family.”

Farm safety checklist for parents:

  • Have a safe and secure play area for young children
  • Prevent children from playing in or around farmyards and livestock
  • Make sure your vehicles have good all-round visibility
  • Prevent all children under 13 years from riding on tractors and farm machinery
  • Do not allow children to play on farm quads
  • Secure all heavy wheels, gates, heavy equipment and stacked materials to prevent them from toppling over
  • Ensure your slurry lagoon is securely fenced to prevent children from gaining access and make sure tank covers are always in place 
  • Always keep children well away when mixing slurry
  • Keep track of where family members are playing or working and when they are expected back 
  • Make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking 
  • Keep chemicals locked in a secure store when not in use
  • Make sure that guards are in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery
  • Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency 
  • Prepare a list of emergency contact telephone numbers

The Farm Safety Foundation has also produced a guidance document aimed at the parents of children who live on farms. It contains lots of excellent farm safety advice and can be found using the following link, https://www.yellowwellies.org/resources/.