One child’s life taken in a farm accident is one too many. Recent child fatalities on farms are a stark reminder of the dangers which lurk for our young people. Sadly there has already been three tractor-related child fatalities on farm this year.

The safety of children on farms should not be left to chance and farm accidents involving children is all too common.

According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the main cause of fatal child accidents has been tractors, vehicles (including quads) (38%) and machinery (43%)¹.

With this in mind, it is imperative that children are kept away from working vehicles and machinery and they must be adequately supervised when they are on the farm. Here Ciaran Roche, risk manager with FBD Insurance, outlines five child safety points to focus on.

Rule 1: Provide a safe play area

Remember, there are lots of opportunities for children to get involved on a farm but it is not a playground. Children should play in a safe, supervised play area, away from all the hazards of a working farm.

Rule 2: Supervision

It is important that children are only allowed on the farm when they are supervised and these occasions should also be taken as an opportunity to teach children about the hazards on the farm and how to stay safe.

Rule 3: Tractors are not for kids!

The tractor is not a babysitting aid and must not be used as one.

The Code of Practice on Preventing Accidents to Children and Young Persons in Agriculture says that a child must be at least seven years-of-age and be provided with a properly designed and fitted passenger seat (with a seat belt) inside a safety cab or frame before they are allowed to sit in a tractor.

Children under the age of 14 must not be allowed to drive or operate tractors or self-propelled machines. In addition, children over the age of 14 must only be allowed to operate tractors after having received adequate training.

Young persons must be at least 16 and hold an appropriate drivers licence before they can drive in a public place.

Rule 4: Exclude children from dangerous activities/areas

Children are naturally curious and will often get into seemingly inaccessible places.

Make sure that children are excluded from dangerous areas such as machine operating areas; slurry pits and slurry storage areas; stacks of bales (especially round bales); chemical stores; sheep dipping tanks; open wells; and grain silos.

The most effective way to do this is to provide adequate supervision and childproof fencing around these areas.

Rule 5: Children and dangerous animals do not mix

Children should not be allowed to come into close contact with dangerous animals such as bulls, stallions, rams and female livestock with new-born young.

Road safety

Contractors and machinery operators are reminded to be extra alert and to drive at safe speeds due to the significant increase in the number of social road users, involving people walking, running and cycling on the roads.

Never leave the safety of children to chance. Always make child safety your priority on the farm.

Further information

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  1. Health and Safety report on Deaths of Children on Farms 2010-2019.