Mid-Ulster MLA, Sandra Overend, has urged local farming families to focus on child safety over the summer months.
The UUP spokesperson for Children and Young People, was speaking after the launch of ‘Child Safety on Farms Week’ from 22-28 June.
“With schools finished for summer, our young people are sure to be spending much more time on the farm. Whilst the holidays are a great opportunity for children and young people to learn how farm businesses work – and perhaps earn some extra pocket money by helping out – it is important that they are aware of the dangers on the farm, and that necessary precautions are taken,” said Mrs Overend.
“We have seen too many tragedies involving young people on our farms, especially at this time of year when the weather is good and children are keen to get involved and help out, as well as watch the tractors and machinery in action; and when farmers and contractors are busy with silage and other tasks.
“Personally speaking, there is always the debate in our house before my children go out to the farm who exactly will be responsible for the boys, where they will be, what they’ll be doing and how long it will be before they are back.
“The lure of big machinery and lots of heavy work going on is exciting for the young minds, but the dangers must be discussed and reinforced time and time again. Sometimes these discussions refresh the minds of the everyday dangers for our working farmers too, which is always a good thing too.
“The Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI) have produced a checklist for farmers to help keep children and young people safe, as well as farm safety videos for children on their YouTube channel.
“There are practical steps which can be taken to make sure our local farms are as safe as possible, such as ensuring guards and covers are in place, providing suitable safety equipment for use of quads and making sure all family members know what to do in an emergency.
“The message to parents and guardians and message to children must be to take care and #AvoidHarmOnTheFarm. If you have any concerns or would like more information on farm safety, you can call the HSENI helpline on: 0800 0320 121 or visit www.hseni.gov.uk/farmsafe”