Yards and fields must be ‘no go areas’ for children during farm work

The importance of child safety on farms has been heavily stressed by the Farm Safety Partnership, which said that yards and fields must be “no go areas” for children while farm work is going on.

In light of recent child fatalities on farms, and the busy period that farmers and contractors are facing into, the partnership is calling for a particular focus to be placed on child safety and the risks of tractors and machinery.

“Sadly, there have already been three tractor-related child fatalities on farms so far this year. Our sympathy goes out to every family and community who has been affected by these fatalities,” said the partnership in a statement.

The partnership – which is made up of representatives from farm organisations; agri-sector stakeholders; and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – highlighted that more children will be at home and around farms due to school closures resulting from Covid-19.

“Over the last 10 years, 83% of child fatalities on farms have involved vehicles/tractors, quads and other machinery. Because of this, it is imperative that children are kept away from working vehicles and machinery,” the partnership outlined.

“Remember, a tractor is not a babysitting aid and a child must be at least seven years-of-age and be provided with a properly designed 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.

“It is essential that children are only allowed play in safe, secure areas away from the working farm. When on the farm, children must be supervised and kept away from all machinery, dangerous activities and livestock.

The statement continued: “These occasions should also be taken as an opportunity to teach children about the hazards on the farm and how to stay safe.”

Silage

Larger vehicles and machinery used in silage harvesting pose danger to all, particularly children and elderly persons, the Farm Safety Partnership warned.

“Particular attention must be given to ensuring that tractors, trailers, mowers, harvesters and balers are maintained in good condition, adequately guarded and only operated in a safe manner by competent persons,” it said.

Contractors and machinery operators must be extra vigilant coming out onto public roads and must drive at safe speeds due to the substantial rise in the number of casual road users, involving people out walking, running and cycling on the roads.

“Contractors and their farming customers should agree safe operating procedures with regard to silage pit filling heights, so as to prevent the pit from collapsing and to ensure the stability of the rolling equipment to prevent loss of control or overturns,” the statement highlighted.

The partnership concluded: “During this very challenging and busy time on farms, don’t leave safety to chance, and make child safety your priority on the farm.”