New rules that only children between the age of 7 and 16 may be carried in the cab of tractors or other farm machinery are central to a new code of practice preventing accidents to children on farms, according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.
He said there have been 11 child fatalities involving children under seven years old over the past 10 years, 2004-2014, some of which involved tractors or other farm machinery. Of this total, tractors were involved in the fatalities of five of these children under seven years old.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the national statutory body with responsibility for enforcing occupational safety and health law and promoting and encouraging accident prevention.
He said it has conducted extensive campaigns to improve farm safety and to emphasise that children should not be placed at risk. A Code of Practice on Preventing Accidents to Children and Young Persons in Agriculture was first published in 2001.
According to Minister Bruton the Farm Safety Partnership, an advisory committee to the Board of the Authority involving farmer representative organisations, assisted in the drafting and revision of the Code of Practice on Preventing Accidents to Children and Young Persons in Agriculture.
Central to this code of practice is the principle that only children between the age of 7 and 16 may be carried in the cab of tractors or other farm machinery, and if carried must only be carried if on a seat with a lap belt provided, he said.
Bruton said while all workplace fatalities are tragic, the death of a child is even more so, particularly as in most cases these fatalities arise out of farm work activity carried out close to the home.
The grief over the loss of a child can only be exacerbated where circumstances show that the fatality could have been easily avoided through better health and safety awareness, he said.
Bruton stressed reducing the number of farm fatalities remains a priority for the HSA and efforts will continue to embed a culture of safety first in the farming community.