As the summer holidays approach, Child Safety on Farms Week (22 to 28 June) serves as a timely reminder to farming families and visitors to be extra vigilant over the next few months.
Run by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) and supported by members of the Farm Safety Partnership, the Child Safety on Farms Campaign is committed to eliminating fatal accidents through an extensive education and outreach programme.
The campaign timing is chosen deliberately as the summer poses increased risks to children as they typically spend more time on the farm during what is a very busy and potentially hazardous period.
In the last 10 years, three children have died as a result of farm accidents in Northern Ireland. Since 2000 there have been 11 child farm deaths – with five of these occurring during the summer months, two of which were in the last two years.
Agriculture has one of the highest fatal accident rates of any industry in Northern Ireland and is also the only high risk industry that has to deal with the constant presence of children. Some of the main risks include moving vehicles such as tractors, quads and harvesters; farm animals, infectious diseases, harmful substances, slurry tanks and falling objects.
Chief Executive of HSENI Keith Morrison said: “The last two years have seen two children die from farming related accidents during the summer months. This is a very worrying trend which must be addressed through constant education and awareness. The dangers associated with farming cannot be overstated - with farms effectively becoming one of the most dangerous playgrounds for children during the summer months. This period can be one of the busiest on farms, with various contractors on site operating potentially dangerous vehicles and machinery.”
The latest Child Safety on Farms Campaign involves HSENI inspectors visiting rural primary schools throughout Northern Ireland to deliver interactive workshops, as well as a new child safety on farms radio advertisement during the summer months.