Farm Safety Week: Keep your children safe on farms

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Farms are usually family homes as well as workplaces, with children often present. Tragically between 2000 and 2017 in Northern Ireland, eleven children have lost their lives due to farm accidents.

Whilst there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of children killed since the HSENI ‘Be Aware Kids’ campaign started in 2004, there have still been too many child deaths and injuries on farms in recent years.

Therefore, it is important that we appeal to all of our farming community to look after children whilst on the farm and keep them safe from harm. As we all know summer is a particularly dangerous time for children on farms as they’re off school and are about more when farms are particularly busy.

HSENI Principal Inspector Malcolm Downey said: “On farms, children are naturally curious, but keeping our children safe on those farms is one of the things that everyone agrees is essential. It is really important that our children are educated about safety on the farm so that they are aware of the potential dangers and learn how to avoid them.

“I am making a personal plea to all farm families to make child farm safety a priority, particularly at this busy time with longer evenings during the summer. Please talk about safety as a family and put in place simple, practical measures to make sure your children are safe at all times.

“With this in mind, parents should think about things they can do to help protect children from the dangers. These include providing young children with a securely fenced-off play area, ensuring unattended vehicles are kept locked, and avoiding playing in busy farmyards. Please prioritise your family’s safety over anything else.”

As a parent there are a number of things you can do to help prevent your child having a farm accident, and HSENI has produced the following checklist to help you out:

* have a safe and secure play area for young children

* prevent children from playing in or around farmyards and livestock

* prevent all children under the age of 13 from riding on tractors and farm machinery

* a quad must not be used by any person under 16 years, and any person using the quad for agricultural work must have suitable safety and equipment and be adequately trained

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

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

* always keep children well away when mixing slurry

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

* make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking

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

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

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

* prepare a list of emergency contact telephone numbers

For more information on Farm Safety Week visit www.yellowwellies.org or follow @yellowwellies on Twitter/Facebook using the hashtag #FarmSafetyWeek