FARMING MATTERS: Keeping children safe in the farmyard

Children under the age of 13 are prohibited from driving and riding on farm machinery being used in agricultural operations
Children under the age of 13 are prohibited from driving and riding on farm machinery being used in agricultural operations
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Most people do not live at their workplace. For farming families, there is no option. Farming is a way of life not just a job.

And that means farm children have to be brought up with an understanding of the dangers that abound in the farmyard.

This is not always easy as children are naturally inquisitive, love adventure and don’t always see the dangers that adults do.

When our children were born we didn’t live on the main farm, and the garden where we did live was securely fenced and gated against the neighbouring orchard.

Moving to the main farm when the children were aged five and two meant we were suddenly faced with a garden that was effectively a wide open space with no boundaries. The first thing I asked my husband to do was to erect a proper fence around the part of the garden that led from the back door, so that I could relax, knowing the children were enjoying themselves outside, but were fenced in.

The issue of the dangers of farm machinery in particular has been highlighted in the latest issue of British Farmer and Grower, the industry magazine for NFU members.Tom Price, NFU farm transport and safety adviser, is quoted: “Farm transport and machinery is the biggest cause of fatality and injury on farm, so it is not surprising that the access of children to farm machinery is controlled.”

Youngsters under the age of 13 are prohibited from driving but also from riding in the cab of farm machinery being used in agricultural operations. In addition to vehicles working in the fields this includes vehicles travelling on the main road from one site to another.

The Health and Safety Executive explains this is because young children can and do fall from the doorway or rear window; interfere with the operator’s control of the vehicle; and can distract the operator or unintentionally operate controls, for example the parking brake or hydraulics when the operator leaves the cab to open a gate.