THE Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is urging families to take extra care on the farm this summer as school holidays get under way and agricultural work intensifies during what is traditionally the busiest time of the year.
As part of its ‘Be Aware Kids’ child safety on farms campaign, the HSENI has also issued guidance for families and farm workers to help keep everyone farm safe.
Malcolm Downey, who heads up the farm safety team at HSENI said: “Every child loves being on the farm, but while it can be place of great fun and excitement, it can also be an extremely dangerous environment - especially for children.
“Tragically, fatal accidents and injuries involving children on farms have been all too common in Northern Ireland. Farm safety must be a priority all year-round, but particularly at this time of year when children are off school for the summer and there’s a challenging amount of work to be done.
“Most farmers in Northern Ireland are only too aware of the dangers involved in running a busy farm and know what needs to be done to keep children safe. Let’s make sure our children get that message too.”
If children are old enough, tell them about the dangers they should look out for and where they are not allowed to go and encourage them to be responsible.
HSENI is urging farm families and agricultural workers to read the following checklist and take any action necessary to make sure that children are not injured on our farms this summer:
How safe is your farm?
Do you have you a safe and secure play area for young children?
Do you prevent children from playing in or around farm yards and livestock?
Do you prevent all children under 13 years from riding on tractors and farm machinery?
Do you restrict the use of the quad and provide suitable safety equipment?
Do you secure all heavy wheels, gates, heavy equipment and stacked materials to prevent them from toppling over?
Is your slurry lagoon securely fenced to prevent children from gaining access and do you make sure tank covers are always in place?
Do you keep track of where family members are playing or working and when they are expected back?
Do your vehicles have good all-round visibility?
Do you make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking?
Malcolm Downey added: “Children who live on farms are at greater risk of injury and death than their parents or other farm workers, so it’s important that parents or other farm workers properly address the issue of farm safety, devise a plan and review all the advice available. Planning ahead will help make sure everyone has a fun, enjoyable, safe and memorable summer holiday.”
The ‘Be Aware Kids’ campaign is part of a major HSENI drive to reduce the number of farm fatalities and injuries in Northern Ireland. Since its launch, HSENI has developed a primary school teacher resource pack, a number of educational booklets for children and their parents, a farm safety board game and a farm safety website, as well as conducting talks and presentations in many rural primary schools.
To find out more about HSENI’s ‘Be Aware Kids” ’ campaign and to download the latest advice on how to keep children safe on farms, please contact the HSENI on 0300 020 0030 or visit www.hseni.gov.uk/farmsafe