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Caution: Children at Play

The most precious commodity anyone has on their farm is their children. Children 15 and under also have the highest farm injury rates. Take some time to review this post and make sure you are doing all you can to keep your children (and yourself) safe.

The majority of accidents or deaths on farms tend to involve machinery. If a child is outside of the machine, make sure the driver is able to see the child before they move. If a child is inside the equipment, make sure they have their own seat (not sitting on your lap). Keep them buckled up if available. Keep up regular maintenance of machinery to prevent issues as much as possible. When purchasing new equipment, use a Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) to help lessen damage in case there is an accident. If you aren’t looking to purchase new equipment, look into retro-fitting your machine with ROPS. Remove keys from equipment and take them with you when it is done being used. Do not let children operate equipment if they have not been properly taught how.

Children should be given age-appropriate jobs. It’s great to get them excited and involved on the farm, but parents and adults need to know their limits for them. Children tend to be overconfident in their abilities, and adults need to be able to determine if a child actually is capable of the requested job. For help on activities a child is capable of click here. Even with an age-appropriate job, children should still be supervised.

Curious children can easily be intrigued by animals on the farm. It is important to teach them the difference between a pet and a farm animal. Let them know there is a difference, and make them aware that even though some animals are gentle, they can still get upset, and because of their size, could seriously injure someone if they became aggressive.

Farms have a number of dangerous or hazardous areas and items on them. Education is the most powerful tool we can give to children. Let them know what is dangerous and why. Give them hearing and eye protection if they are in areas that require, and make sure to enforce that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn. Be sure that all machinery has the proper safety guards, and that they are in place. Keep children away from the variety of chemicals that may be on the farm, especially children under 10.

Educate children on dangerous gases and where they can be found on the farm (manure pits, silos, grain bins, etc.). Keep those areas off limits for children, and make sure they understand just how dangerous gases are and how difficult (if at all) possible it is to tell gases are even present.

Lastly, lead by example. Your children look up to you and will mimic you as much as possible. Get into the habit of proper safety, and explain to your children what you are looking for to stay safe and how they should be handling certain situations. “Talk out loud” to them to teach them healthy safety habits. Designate a safe “play area” for kids that is away from the farm and equipment. Take the time to join a local class and learn CPR and general First Aid. Have an emergency plan in place, several first aid kids easily accessible, and emergency phone number lists located in a couple different places.

Sources:

“Child Safety on the Farm.” America’s Farmers

“Farm Safety – Children.” Victoria State Government

“OSHA Fact Sheet: Farm Safety.” OSHA

“Show-Me Farm Safety.” Missouri Agriculture

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