Farm safety – children on farms during extended Halloween break

Friday, 23 October, 2020

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging parents/guardians to be vigilant with schools closed early for half term due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

With curious minds and adventurous spirits, children love to get out on the farm to meet the animals and explore, however farms are a place of work and are a dangerous environment for children.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said, “Children are naturally curious. Children view farms as one big play area and fail to understand the consequences that go hand in hand with playing around machinery, equipment and livestock. Farms, and in particular working farms, can be tempting places for them to play and often children do not understand the dangers a farm can present.

“It can be very difficult to both supervise children and work on the farm. With this in mind, parents/guardians should think about preventative measures they can put in place to help protect children from the dangers. These measures include providing children with a securely fenced off play area, ensuring unattended vehicles are kept locked, and discouraging children from using bales of any description for playing. It is vital that every farmer and farming family take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their family.”

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) are calling on the farming community to keep children safe on the farm and have provided a farm safety checklist for parents:

  • Have a safe and secure play area for young children
  • Prevent children from playing in or around farmyards and livestock
  • Make sure your vehicles have good all-round visibility
  • Prevent all children under 13 years from riding on tractors and farm machinery
  • Restrict the use of the quad and provide suitable safety equipment
  • Secure all heavy wheels, gates, heavy equipment and stacked materials to prevent them from toppling over
  • Ensure your slurry lagoon is securely fenced to prevent children from gaining access and make sure tank covers are always in place 
  • Always keep children well away when mixing slurry
  • Keep track of where family members are playing or working and when they are expected back 
  • Make sure everyone washes their hands before eating and drinking 
  • Keep chemicals locked in a secure store when not in use
  • Make sure that guards are in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery
  • Make sure all family members know what to do in an emergency 
  • Prepare a list of emergency contact telephone numbers

The UFU would encourage farmers and their families to visit www.hseni.gov.uk for more information on farm safety.