15 June 2001
Farm safety officials target children

By Alistair Driver

A CAMPAIGN to reduce the number of child fatalities on farms has been launched by Health and Safety Executive officials.

Forty-four children were killed in farm accidents from 1990-2000. Over half the fatalities occurred when the child involved was not adequately supervised.

All the deaths could have been prevented, said HM chief inspector of agriculture Linda Williams, who wants to reduce future fatalities to zero.

Mrs Williams launched a special report, Keep Children Safe on the Farm, at the East of England Show in Peterborough on Friday (15 June).

Using case studies, the report highlights the main causes of child deaths on farms, and gives guidance on ways to prevent children being exposed to risk.

It will reinforce the message through an advertising campaign in the agricultural press throughout the summer.

“Allowing children to play on farms can have devastating effects if they are not supervised adequately,” Mrs Williams said.

Most accidents happened during the spring and summer, with 15 children killed during July and August, the peak harvest season.

Three in four fatalities featured boys. Half involved children under five.

“This is extraordinarily high, as these children were nominally under adult supervision,” said Mrs Williams.

“This makes for a depressingly familiar series of tragedies involving children being run over, drowned or falling from heights.”

Farming has one of the highest fatal accident rates among all UK industries. Its problems are compounded because children live on many farms.

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