From seven years of age children may ride in the cab of a tractor as long as a properly designed passenger seat is fitted, according to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton.

This week the Minister said that the Health and Safety Authority Code of Practice on Preventing Accidents to Children and Young Persons in Agriculture prohibits children under the age of 14 from riding on agricultural machines including agricultural trailers unless a risk assessment shows it to be safe to do so.

He said farmers must prepare a Safety Statement to comply with Section 20 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.

It must be based on an identification of the hazards and an assessment of the risks, so as to ensure their own safety and that of other persons in the workplace (e.g. children or young persons assisting in work activities).

However, he did say that the Code provides that children between the ages of 7 and 16 may ride on a tractor provided the tractor is fitted with a properly designed and fitted passenger seat (with seat belts) inside a safety cab or frame.

“It is important to always remember that farms are workplaces.

“Most fatal accidents involving children on farms occur as a result of their straying into areas where work is taking place.

“A relaxed approach to the presence of children in and around farm vehicles and the normalisation of such activity can be a contributing factor in increasing the risk of fatalities,” he said.