9 Ways to Keep Your Children Safe on the Farm
Farming is a dangerous profession. It’s a high risk environment for children, young people and adults. While farms are both your workplace and your home, the thought of a child or young person getting injured or worse is unfathomable.
That’s why it’s important to be proactive about safety on the farm. Whether they’re children or young people, it’s important to keep all members of your family safe.
But how do you get started?
Here are 9 things to think about to keep your children and family safe on the farm:
1. What supervision protocols are in place?
When farming activities are taking place, who’s keeping an eye on the kids to ensure that they’re out of harm’s way? And at what age should supervision change? This will depend on the child and their understanding of the potential dangers of farming. As an adult and parent, your child’s safety is probably already top of mind.
2. Storing chemicals safely
Are chemicals easily accessible on your farm? If so, what precautions can you take to ensure dangerous and hazardous chemicals are stored safely from children? An example of storage ideas can range from fire rated hazmat storage (typically for flammable and hazardous chemicals) to chemical storage cabinets. Make sure whatever you use can be locked up and securely stored. There are stringent U.S. state requirements and age limits for handling certain classes and types of chemicals and pesticides. Additional resources for Canadian and Australian farmers are listed at the bottom of this post.
3. Ride alongs
Are ride-alongs ever safe? And at what age should you think about starting to have your child ride along on equipment and tractors? This answer may change depending upon the type, make, model and age of the equipment. Should a tractor with no roll over protection be treated differently than one with it? Don’t get complacent with a newer tractor. Does it have enough seatbelts? Can a child fall out of the door if you hit a bump?
4. Farming equipment
When should children be given access to farming equipment? What type of training has been provided to the child? Are there other safer activities? If it’s for work on the farm in the U.S. make sure to check Federal and State child labor laws for agriculture.
5. Confined spaces
What is a confined space and how can children be made aware of their danger? What are the existing confined spaces on your farm? Some common confined spaces in farming are: grain bins, silos, vats, underground tunnels and wells, water tanks, manure pits, etc.
6. Buildings and structures
Are children aware of the dangers of barns and grain elevators? When is it safe for kids to climb buildings and structures? For more information on the exemptions and fall protection regulations for farms in the U.S. review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration presentation Fall Prevention in Agriculture.
7. Sources of water
Are there ponds, rivers, retention ponds, water tanks, springs, wells, etc. on your farm? Can everyone on the farm swim? If some swimmers are stronger than others, are appropriate safety devices available for those who are not as strong or confident? Discuss water safety with your children and specific examples of when and where they are not allowed to swim on the farm and the importance of having someone else around; i.e. having a buddy system for safety purposes.
8. Farm animals
How do you keep kids safe around farm animals? What animals are more dangerous than others? Understand that farm animals are unpredictable and everyone should always be aware of the size and dangers of these animals.
9. Other hazards
Other hazards to be aware of on your farm include:
Overhead power lines
Portable grain augers
Power take-off shafts
Uncovered grain dust
Keeping your family and kids safe is a personal, regulated, and sensitive topic. Opinions will definitely vary and that’s okay. Depending on where you live, country and state laws may vary. Safety awareness of the dangers of farming is an important step to prevent injuries.
Make it a priority to keep your kids safe by talking to them and having discussions about farm safety.
Additional resources for family farmer safety
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