NI farmers told to ensure strict farm safety for children

The NI farming community has been urged to keep children safe on the farm this summer (Photo: Yellow Wellies)
The NI farming community has been urged to keep children safe on the farm this summer (Photo: Yellow Wellies)

Eleven children have lost their lives due to work related accidents on Northern Irish farms since the year 2000.

The startling figures have been released to encourage farmers in Northern Ireland to increase steps in ensuring farm safety over the coming months.

Summer is a particularly dangerous time for children on farms as they’re off school and are about more when farms are particularly busy.

In response, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has unveiled its 'Be Aware Kids Child Safety on Farms' campaign.

It aims to eradicate fatal and serious accidents through an extensive education and outreach programme which includes a programme of planned school visits throughout Northern Ireland.

This involves HSENI staff visiting rural primary schools to deliver interactive workshops about farm safety, and this year more than 75 schools have been visited since Easter with over 10,750 children attending the presentations.

HSENI Chief Executive Robert Kidd said it is 'simply unthinkable' to lose a child or have them seriously injured in a farming incident.

“Keeping children safe on farms is one of those things that everyone agrees on.

“Those who have experienced this bear unimaginable pain for the rest of their lives. But it needn’t be this way in the future.

“We can take action to keep our children safe and we must do everything we can to prevent our children being injured or killed in farming incidents,” he said.

'Farms can be tempting places'

Farmers have been encouraged by the agency to be more aware of the dangers from livestock, harmful substances, falling objects, slurry, high places and moving vehicles this summer.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) said farmers can enforce measures such as 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.

UFU president Ivor Ferguson said: “Children are naturally curious. 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 should think about preventative measures they can put in place to help protect children from the dangers.”

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

• Prevent all children under the age of 13 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