15 June 1998
HSE urges farmers to do more
to protect children

By FWi staff

FARMERS dont do enough to ensure the safety of children on farms, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned.

David Mattey, HSEs chief agricultural inspector, said since 1986/87 no fewer than 71 children have been killed in incidents on farms.

“Assessing the risks in the activities that the children were involved in would have prevented virtually all of these incidents. Some of the risks are so obvious that almost no assessment is needed – for example allowing children as young as three years old to play in a farmyard when work is going on,” Mr Mattey said.

The HSEs criticism of farmers coincides with the Child Accident Prevention Trusts (CAPT) child safety week. The HSE is helping to promote the week by running a series of publicity and education events throughout the country.

“I urge farmers to take the time to visit one of these widely publicised local events on child safety,” Mr Mattey said.

He said children should only be allowed into the farmyard when they are closely supervised and when there is no work going on.

Of the 71 deaths since 1986/87, 15 were due to falls or falling objects – such as gates and tractor tyres left upright on farms. Seventeen were due to being run over by or falling from farm machinery, 15 drownings or asphyxiation, five through fires, 12 due to other machines, and seven other deaths included being hanged or electrocuted.

The ages of the dead children range from one to 15 years, with an average age of eight years.

“Farmers must recognise that a child within a tractor cab is not safe – they can and do fall through open and missing doors or through open rear windows. They can also interfere with the proper operation of the driving controls, putting both the driver and themselves at risk,” he said.

“If you are a farmer, consider what more you need to do on your premises. Before the school holidays begin, take time to walk around your farm, trying to see it from a childs point of view.

Farmers have been advised to keep a look out for:

  • unsecured tractor wheels or gates which could be used as a climbing frame;
  • unsafe machinery or grain stores; and
  • suspect gates leading to slurry stores or irrigation reservoirs.