According to the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, the industry of agriculture has the second highest fatality rate among youth workers at 21.3 per 100,000 and an estimated 3,600 youth are injured each year while performing farm work.
With these statistics in mind, it’s important to note some farm safety tips for parents of children living and working on the farm.
Dan Neenan is the manager for the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Peosta, Iowa. Jason Haymes has been teaching youth about agriculture in the classroom and on the farm for 20 years as an agriculture education teacher in Mt. Vernon, Mo., and a father of four grown children. Here is their advice for farm safety with kids:
1)    In General:  Neenan encouraged parents to supervise small children at all times in dangerous farm areas, particularly around large machinery, grain bins and animals. Haymes reiterated with, “Kids always need to have adequate supervision and adequate instruction when asked to do a task anywhere on the farm.”
2)    Around Machinery:  Neenan noted that “children should never ride as a passenger on a tractor or riding lawn mower.” Haymes added that, “if you’re off the machine and the machine is running kids don’t always know how dangerous it is. Remind them where the dangerous points are – pinch points or points where they could get caught, cut or hurt. Use guards and shields also.”
3)    ATV Safety:  “Kids should always wear helmets. They also need instruction on not just how to operate the ATV but also where and when to drive it – don’t drive on gravel, rocks or slopes and don’t drive it in the dark, for example,” noted Haymes. “Always make sure children are operating an ATV that is the right size for them,” said Neenan.
4)    Near Water:  Neenan defined how important it is for children to have a fenced off, safe area to play so they’re not tempted to play in dangerous areas like around ponds or creeks. Haymes added that it’s important to make kids aware of the danger of drowning in water – especially if there’s not an adult around.
5)    Around Livestock: “Children love to be around animals no matter what size they are. Always have an adult around when children are in proximity to large animals,” concluded Neenan. “Animals see things differently than we do… shadows, movements and other things can spook an animal that we as people don’t see. Kids don’t know that, so they need to be aware that these big, heavy animals are unpredictable and they always need to think of plan B if the animal doesn’t do what they think it will do.”
6)    Small Tools and the Shop: Neenan and Haymes agree that working in the farm’s shop or working with small tools shouldn’t be taken for granted. “Chainsaws, lawn mowers and other small machines can be just as dangerous or deadly for a child as the large machines. Safety guards, excellent instruction and wearing the right clothes and shoes are the most important things,” said Haymes. Neenan continued with, “A lot of slips, trips and falls occur in the farm shops and lots of equipment is lying around. Take care to properly store equipment so it doesn’t become a safety hazard.”


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