Child Safety on Farms Week 2016

HSENIs Julie Leathem and headmaster Paul Smith with some of the children who participated in a recent child farm safety visit at Upper Ballyboley Primary School, Ballyclare.
HSENIs Julie Leathem and headmaster Paul Smith with some of the children who participated in a recent child farm safety visit at Upper Ballyboley Primary School, Ballyclare.

During Child Safety on Farms Week (13 to 17 June) the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is calling on the farming community to keep children safe on the farm this summer.

Summer is a particularly dangerous time for children on farms as they’re off school and are about more when work activity is running at a very high level - often with contractors on-site operating potentially dangerous vehicles and machinery.

Tragically, since the year 2000 there have been more than 100 deaths on our farms with six children under 11-years losing their lives due to farm accidents.

Child Safety on Farms Week is part of the ongoing child safety on farms’ campaign run by HSENI and supported by the members of the Farm Safety Partnership. The campaign aims to eradicate fatal and serious accidents through an extensive education and outreach programme which includes a programme of planned school visits throughout Northern Ireland. This involves HSENI inspectors visiting rural primary schools to deliver interactive workshops about farm safety and this year more than 80 schools and 8,000 pupils have been visited.

For this year’s campaign a new app called ‘Farm Secure’ has been developed by students at Ulster University’s School of Nursing. Sponsored by the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP) the free app is aimed at primary school children and features videos and an interactive quiz. It will be available for Android from 17 June and for IOS over the coming weeks.

Urging farming families to take extra care this year, HSENI Chief Executive Keith Morrison said: “It is important to educate children about safety on the farm so that they can be aware of potential dangers and learn how to avoid them.

“As many children from farming families will also become our farmers of the future, it is vital that they learn about safety from a young age and develop good habits early. I hope the new app will prove to be a fun and useful tool in educating our young people about farm safety.

“I’d urge parents to take a few moments to think about the safety of children and to put in place simple measures so that your family have a happy and safe summer on the farm. Please make sure children are kept well away from livestock, harmful substances, falling objects, slurry gas and slurry tanks, and moving vehicles such as tractors, quad bikes or harvesters.”

President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union Barclay Bell added: “As a parent and a farmer, I understand the fun and fascination farms have for children. However, they need to know that they can also be dangerous playgrounds and parents must take practical steps to help prevent accidents. This could be by adding a securely fenced play area for young children or by making sure your children are always kept out of the farmyard and fields unless under the close and direct supervision of a responsible adult.

“Remember, if your children are old enough, it’s good to talk to them about farm safety so that they learn how to keep themselves safe.”

Ulster University’s Dr Bernie Reid, Nursing Lecturer, Public Health specialist who supervised the students said: “Ulster University has a global reputation for nursing research and teaching excellence as well as a long history of innovation in advanced technology solutions. The development of the app highlights how nursing theory and practice can be applied to technology to deliver innovative public health solutions, and we are proud of our students who developed this app and the potential it offers to keeping children in our farming communities safe. Ulster University has also secured the intellectual property (IP) rights for the app which will enable it to maximise the use of the technology across a range of areas in the future.”

Farm safety checklist for parents

l have a safe and secure play area for young children

l prevent children from playing in or around farmyards and livestock

l prevent all children under 13 years from riding on tractors and farm machinery

l restrict the use of the quad and provide suitable safety equipment

l secure all heavy wheels, gates, heavy equipment and stacked materials to prevent them from toppling over

l ensure your slurry lagoon is securely fenced to prevent children from gaining access and make sure tank covers are always in place

l always keep children well away when mixing slurry

l keep track of where family members are playing or working and when they are expected back

l make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking

l keep chemicals locked in a secure store when not in use

l make sure that guards are in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery

l make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency

l prepare a list of emergency contact telephone numbers