The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is calling on the farming community to keep children safe on the farm this summer.
Summer is a particularly dangerous time for children on farms as they’re off school and are about more when farms are particularly busy - often with contractors on-site operating potentially dangerous vehicles and machinery.

Tragically, since the year 2000 eleven children have lost their lives due to work related accidents on farms.

The ‘Be Aware Kids Child Safety on Farms’ campaign 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.

Urging farming families to take extra care this year, HSENI Chief Executive Robert Kidd said: “Keeping children safe on farms is one of those things that everyone agrees on. It is simply unthinkable to lose a child or have them seriously injured in a farming incident. 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.

“It is really important that our children are educated about safety on farm so that they are aware of the potential dangers and learn how to avoid them. I am making a personal plea to all farm families to make child farm safety a priority, particularly at this busy time with longer evenings and with schools winding down for the summer. Please talk about safety as a family and put in place simple, practical, measures to make sure your children are safe at all times.

“There are plenty of materials and guidance available on the HSENI website to make safety interesting and engaging for children. We are all now well aware of the dangers from livestock, harmful substances, falling objects, slurry, high places and moving vehicles. However this awareness must be matched by changed behaviours to ensure incidents are avoided. The Farm Safety Partnership will continue to do all it can, but the initiative must come from parents if we are to really make our farms safe places for our children. Please make that change today and prioritise your family’s safety over everything else.”

UFU president Ivor Ferguson says, “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. 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.”

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

Councillor Terry Hearty  has also urged  everyone involved in farming to put preventative measures in place to protect children on farms.

The Slieve Gullion area Councillor was speaking after figures released by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that since the year 2000, 11 children had lost their lives due to farm related accidents.

"Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the north and unfortunately we have had a number of tragic deaths on farms in recent years.

I would urge all those involved in farming to take heed of this warning and to show extreme care and caution while children are working or playing on the farm”.

 Cllr Hearty continued “I would advise parents to talk to their children about the importance of staying safe on the farm and and to put in place simple, practical, measures to make sure children are safe at all times.

We don't want to see any more deaths on our farms across the north."

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